Bears Pro Bowl choices a testament to perseverance

949695.png

Bears Pro Bowl choices a testament to perseverance

Call it a triumph for persistence, second effort or whatever. But the Bears are sending five players to the Pro Bowl, several of them overcoming doubters at more than one level of their sporting careers.
 
Four are on defense, two linemen and two cornerbacks: tackle Henry Melton, end Julius Peppers, plus the cornerback tandem of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman.
 
Offense is represented just by Brandon Marshall, No. 2 behind only Detroits Calvin Johnson in receptions (117 to 113) and receiving yardage (1,892 to 1,466).
 
Jennings struggled to find a college scholarship because coaches thought he was too short. He lost his starting job for game 15 of the 2011 season.
RELATED: 2013 Pro Bowl snubs
 
Melton went to Texas as a running back, left as defensive end, and wasnt switched to defensive tackle until the 2011 offseason. Tillman, who has forced 10 fumbles in 2012, never went to a Pro Bowl before his ninth NFL season and now will have gone twice. He has intercepted three passes this season and returned all three for touchdowns.
 
Marshall was the 119th player taken in his draft (2006) and didnt start until his second NFL season.
 
For Peppers, whose 11.5 sacks are the most in his three Bears seasons, it is eighth time he has been chosen for the Pro Bowl, including all three of his seasons as a Bear. Marshalls selection is his fourth once as a Bear, once as a Miami Dolphin and twice as a Denver Bronco.
 
The honor is the second for Tillman and first for Jennings and Melton.
 
Dont stop believing
 
It means a lot, said Jennings, who leads the NFL with eight interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. Im just glad to be here in this moment right now and just kind of share some of the stuff Ive been going through.
 
Hopefully a lot of kids that are going through my situation can take it all in and understand it doesnt matter what people may think about you or you think youre not good enough, if you really want it and you enjoy doing it, just go out there and have fun and try to be the best that you can be. Everything will take care of itself.
 
Moving Melton to defensive tackle was the idea of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Melton had made repeated impact plays as an end flip-flopping with Peppers in different spots and Marinelli, who coached perennial Pro Bowl tackle Warren Sapp when with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, saw the ideal three-technique in Melton with his pass-rush ability.
 
Melton had seven sacks last season, his first at tackle, and has six this season, tied for third among tackles.
 
When Marinelli said I had the stuff that he looks for in a defensive tackle, I listened to him and got to work, Melton said. If he said that he saw me as an elite defensive tackle, hes seen everybody -- Sapp and a lot of guys that have come before me. For him to say that, I believed in what he was saying.
 
Melton had a definite first reaction upon learning that Peppers was also selected. I said, Were going to be roommates? Melton said, then laughed. He said he didnt want to be my roommate.
 
One surprise
 
If there was one surprise it was linebacker Lance Briggs not being chosen to what would have been his eighth straight Pro Bowl. Dick Butkus and Bill George were voted to eight straight and Mike Singletary to 10.

Blackhawks' Artem Anisimov undergoes wrist surgery

snc_panarin_calder_finalist_05-02_640x360_678263875824.jpg

Blackhawks' Artem Anisimov undergoes wrist surgery

Artem Anisimov said last week that he and the Blackhawks had to make the most of this offseason to be prepared for 2016-17. On Tuesday, he took care of something that was apparently ailing him.

Anisimov underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair an injury to his right wrist. Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement that, “the surgery went well. We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks.”

The 27-year-old center played in 77 regular-season and all seven postseason games for the Blackhawks. He was tied for second on the team with three postseason goals (with Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith).

During last week’s closing meetings, Anisimov said he was going to stay in the Chicago area “for a while” before returning to Russia. He also talked about finding the silver lining in the Blackhawks’ early playoff exit.

“We just need to spend our summer wisely, get prepared for the next season and move forward,” he said.

Kameron Chatman the latest to transfer away from Michigan basketball

kameron-chatman-0503.jpg

Kameron Chatman the latest to transfer away from Michigan basketball

Players keep leaving the Michigan basketball program.

An offseason of roster turnover continued Tuesday, when the school announced that junior-to-be Kameron Chatman has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer.

"I honestly don't think I could have had a more quality life experience than I did in Ann Arbor," Chatman said in the announcement. "I am incredibly grateful for my two years at Michigan. I would like to thank coach (John) Beilein and his entire staff for taking a chance on a small-town kid out of Portland. I know my experience has inspired others as I will take all of my lessons learned to continue my pursuit of becoming the best man and player I can. Go Blue!"

"Kam is a wonderful young man with the potential to mature into a fine college player," Beilein said. "We have enjoyed coaching him over the past two years and wish him nothing but the best."

Chatman becomes the fourth player to transfer out of the program this offseason, joining Spike Albrecht, Ricky Doyle and Aubrey Dawkins. Albrecht announced his decision to attend Purdue on Tuesday, and Dawkins is planning a move to Central Florida so he can play for his father.

Chatman started 17 games over his two seasons with the Wolverines, averaging 3.2 points and two rebounds per game.

Last season, he hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot in the Big Ten Tournament to lift Michigan to an upset of top-seeded Indiana. The shot gave the Wolverines a signature win and likely was the difference in the team making th NCAA tournament field.

Chatman was a four-star recruit out of high school, ranked as the No. 25 player in the Class of 2014. He was part of a six-man Michigan recruiting class that season, only two of which remain in Ann Arbor.

Due to NCAA rules, Chatman will have to sit out next season before playing his final two years of eligibility at his next school.

White Sox designate John Danks for assignment

stl_sox_most_impressive_05-02_640x360_678176835717.jpg

White Sox designate John Danks for assignment

The White Sox designated starting pitcher John Danks for assignment on Tuesday.

Erik Johnson is expected to start against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. Carlos Rodon will pitch Wednesday for the Sox.

Danks, 31, had lost all four of his starts this season and had a 7.25 ERA in 22 1/3 innings pitched for the White Sox, who acquired him in December 2006 in a trade that sent Brandon McCarthy to the Texas Rangers. The left-hander is in the final season of a five-year, $65-million contract extension he received in December 2011. He had shoulder surgery in August 2012 and has never rebounded to pre-surgery performance levels.

Danks, who delivered eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on the final day of the 2008 season to pitch the White Sox into the postseason, had a 79-104 mark with the White Sox. He was 48-43 with a 3.77 ERA in the four seasons before he received his extension.

The White Sox now have 10 days to try to trade Danks. He could stick with the organization if he passes through waivers and accepts a minor-league assignment.

The White Sox could also wind up releasing the veteran left-hander.