Bears-Texans sidelights: draft picks and deals

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Bears-Texans sidelights: draft picks and deals

McClellin or Mercilus (or Jones)? Bears made the call
 
When their turn at No. 19 in the 2012 draft came, the anticipated run on edge pass rushers had started. It was the Bears priority in round one.
 
After the defensive tackles were taken (Dontari Poe 11th to Kansas City, Fletcher Cox 12th to Philadelphia, Michael Brockers 14th to St. Louis), the Seattle Seahawks grabbed Bruce Irvin 15th. The Jets took Quinton Coples 16th and San Diego chose Melvin Ingram 18th.
 
Whether the Bears would have taken any of those is conjecture, and GM Phil Emery elected to stand at 19 rather than trade up. The Bears selected Shea McClellin and New England opted for Chandler Jones at 21.
 
When Houstons turn came at 26 they followed their pick of J.J. Watt at No. 11 last year with Illinois Whitney Mercilus.
 
Who had the best pass-rush draft?
 
McClellin, behind Israel Idonije on the Bears defensive-end depth charts, has 2.5 sacks (three according to ProFootballFocus.com), two tackles for loss and nine quarterback pressures.
 
Mercilus, behind Connor Barwin on the Houston outside-linebacker depth chart, has two sacks, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit.
 
The longer it goes, expectations for him grows and grows, said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. We want to see more. Just the little things sometimes, the habits, guys have a tendency to revert back to something. He works, thats the big thing, and hes got speed. So thatll just keep coming for him. Just keep working.
 
(Jones, from Syracuse, is starting for the Patriots with six sacks, eight quarterback hits and 20 hurries.)
 
Trade winds that worked
 
Just before the season opened, the Bears traded fullback Tyler Clutts to the Houston Texans in return for cornerback Sherrick McManis. Clutts was the lead blocker for Matt Forte last year but in the one-back system of Mike Tice, the Bears had less use for a fullback than a special-teams starter.
 
Both teams are pleased with the way the deal has worked out.
 
McManis blocked the Tennessee Titans punt that Corey Wootton lugged into the end zone for a touchdown last Sunday.
 
Clutts has played in all eight Houston games as a reserve fullback and on special teams.

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Antti Raanta stopped all 26 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and Nick Holden netted the winner as the New York Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime on Friday night.

The Blackhawks, playing without Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford, are now 1-2-1 in their last four games. Nevertheless, they remain atop the Western Conference with 38 points.

Scott Darling stopped 36 of 37 shots in the loss.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Two seasons ago Darling and Raanta battled for the Blackhawks’ backup spot. Friday marked their first head-to-head matchup, and it was stellar.

The Blackhawks thought they broke the scoreless tie six minutes into the third period, when Marian Hossa got one past Raanta. But the Rangers challenged for offside and officials agreed, nullifying the goal.

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

The 2017 Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks and Blues is right around the corner.

Players from both sides already squared off in a game of NHL 17 to generate some hype into the game, but nothing compares to behind-the-scenes footage of the two teams leading up to it.

Beginning Dec. 16 at 9 p.m., EPIX will air a one-hour episode each week that provides an all-access look inside the lives of the Blackhawks and Blues, on and off the ice.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The game will be on Jan. 2 at 12 p.m. on NBC, with the final episode airing Friday, Jan. 6.

Here's a two-minute preview involving the Blackhawks, who are labeled "A Good Bunch of Guys."