Ayers hopes to thwart Bears passing attack


Ayers hopes to thwart Bears passing attack

Last week when the Colts offense took the field in Nashville, they were greeted by a new look Titans defense. Second year linebacker Akeem Ayers was shifted to defensive end and was on the field almost exclusively in passing situations. Ayers, the team's leading tackler, found himself on the sideline for more than half of the Titans defensive plays.  Through the first seven games this season, Ayers was on the field for over 90 percent of defensive snaps, but a well-rested Ayers proved dominant against the Colts as the former UCLA standout harassed Andrew Luck, racking up seven tackles and a sack. Ayers hopes to give Jay Cutler the same treatment.

Ayers spoke with John Glennon of The Tennessean regarding his new role:

Its something where I feel like I can be a lot more disruptive in pass-rushing situations, just using my instincts and working at it, said Ayers. I feel like I have a good knack for getting to the quarterback because thats what I did in college.

While the Titans defense seems to be on the rise, the Bears defense has taken the league by storm. The Bears are tied for the lead in the NFL with 16 interceptions, with Tim Jennings leading the team with six picks of his own. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hasnt thrown a pick in his last two starts, but the veteran knows he will have to be perfect to keep that streak going against the Bears. Hasselbeck shared his thoughts with Tennessean reporter Jim Wyatt.

You can tell when they play an offense, they understand the concepts of what the offense is trying to do and also the timing that theyre trying to do it, Hasselbeck said. So its all got to line up perfectly for us to take that opportunity, take that shot or whatever.

Badgers make it official: Linebacker Vince Biegel out for several weeks


Badgers make it official: Linebacker Vince Biegel out for several weeks

After it was reported Thursday night that Vince Biegel would be sidelined while recovering from surgery on his foot, Wisconsin officially announced Friday afternoon that the senior linebacker will be out of action for several weeks.

"I really hate any time a player has to miss time due to an injury, especially a senior like Vince," head coach Paul Chryst said in the announcement. "Vince has such a passion for football and loves playing the game. This team is very important to him, and he is very important to our team. What you appreciate is that you know he will do everything in his power to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Biegel's absence comes during the Badgers' toughest stretch of the season. After scoring a huge win last weekend over a top-10-ranked Michigan State team, Wisconsin is set to take on No. 4 Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor. After that comes games against second-ranked Ohio State and Big Ten West Division rivals Iowa and Nebraska.

Biegel has 156 tackles in 46 career games with 35.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. This season, he's made nine tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack in four games.

Wisconsin is beset by injuries ahead of this weekend's matchup with Michigan. Biegel will join fellow starting linebacker Chris Orr on the injured list, Orr out for the season. And just Thursday, the Badgers announced that kicker Rafael Gaglianone will miss the remainder of the season with a back injury. Week-to-week injuries have also affected a majority of the team's extremely deep running back corps.

Fire hope to damage rival Columbus' playoff hopes Saturday on CSN+

Fire hope to damage rival Columbus' playoff hopes Saturday on CSN+

The Chicago Fire’s current three-game road trip started with back-to-back losses and Saturday’s trip to Columbus represents the last chance to salvage something from the road trip.

To start the trip the Fire lost to New York City FC 4-1 and followed up with a 1-0 loss in Seattle. The Fire are trying to avoid the second 0-3 road trip of the season, following a similar cross-country trip in May.

Saturday’s match at the Columbus Crew will be televised on CSN+ (channel finder). Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

Back on March 19, the third match of the season, the Fire hosted the Crew and the game was a goalless draw. The two teams also played in the U.S. Open Cup on June 28, a 2-1 Fire win.

Norwegian-born forward Ola Kamara has since emerged as one of the best goalscorers in Major League Soccer this season. The 26-year-old joined the Crew in the offseason, but made just three substitute appearances totaling 50 minutes in the team’s first nine matches. The trade of Kei Kamara, no relation, opened up a spot at forward and Ola Kamara took advantage.

Kamara has five goals in the past four matches and is up to 15 on the season despite starting just 19 matches. He did not play against the Fire in March, but started in the Open Cup loss to the Fire and was subbed off at halftime.

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The Fire (6-15-9, 27 points) are freshly eliminated from playoff contention while Columbus (7-12-11, 32 points) is still holding onto hope, but barely. The Crew’s 3-0 loss at D.C. on Wednesday was a crippling blow to Columbus’ playoff chances.

After Saturday's match, which is also Columbus’ home finale, the teams will play again in the next match for both on Oct. 13 at Toyota Park. The international break will split up the matches, but the Fire will return home from the road trip to host the Crew for the third time in 2016.

Two Fire players will leave to join national teams during that break. David Accam will rejoin Ghana for its opening World Cup qualifier against Uganda on Oct. 7 and play at South Africa on Oct. 11. Collin Fernandez will join Peru’s U-20 team.

Injury wise, Matt Lampson is still out for the Fire. Cedrick Mabwati is out for the Crew and playmaker Federico Higuain has missed the last four games, but is listed as questionable.

Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew

TV: CSN+ (channel finder)

When: Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

Where: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio