Fire travel to Pacific Northwest, face Sounders

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Fire travel to Pacific Northwest, face Sounders

Friday, April 8, 2011Posted: 5:20 p.m.

By Dieter Kurtenbach
CSNChicago.com

Last Wednesday, the Fire played in front of a spattering of home fans in Peoria. This weekend, theyll take the field in front of 36,000 green-clad supporters.

Only in MLS.

The Fire open a two-game west coast swing Saturday at Qwest Field in Seattle, taking on the Sounders before a Thursday night tilt against the expansion Portland Timbers.

Seattle, a team expected to contend for the MLS Cup, has gone winless in its first four matches this season, losing to the Galaxy and the Red Bulls before drawing with Houston and San Jose.

Fire captain Logan Pause knows that the Emerald City natives will be restless come Saturday.

Its a special place in Seattle, theres no denying that, Pause said of Qwest Field, which has averaged crowds of 36,318 this season. They havent won yet this year, so it leads to a little bit of a dangerous recipe. We have to be wary of that and know that theyre going to come in with a whole lot.

Pause and the Fire would be wary either way Seattle is amongst the deepest teams in the league, and the Sounders might have the best midfield in all of MLS.

That four-man midfield goes five-deep with talent any squad would envy. The mercurial Brad Evans is one of the most dangerous central midfielders in the league, evidenced by his goal last week against San Jose, and Osvaldo Alonso is the key cog of a Seattle machine that has won back-to-back US Open Cups in 2009 and 2010. Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez, who played for Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup, fortify Seattles attack out wide, and versatile Swedish import Erik Fribergs form in his first MLS games is making team owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer look like a genius.

Add in the dangerous forwards Steve Zakuwani and Freddy Montero and a dependable backline led by James Riley, and it should come as no surprise that Seattles expectations for the 2011 season were high.

But things have not gone as expected through four games, and while Pause doesnt want to read into Seattles struggles too much, he knows the Sounders are eager to prove to their home fans that the first four games were flukes.

Lets be honest its four games, Pause said after practice Thursday. Theyve got 30 more to go. Its by no means indicative of really what that teams about. You know that they are going to be bringing it on Saturday, thats for sure.

Any player will tell you that the first 20 minutes of the game is vital, but the Fire are giving the start of the game even more credence this week. The Fire players expect a relentless onslaught of an attack from Seattle to start the game.

I think we have identified that thats probably whats going to happen, Pause said. Not getting a win yet, you know that theyre going to come out flying, especially in front of their home fans. Were not worried about that. We expect thats going to happen, so we prepare for that.

Pauses role in central midfield will be to quell the Seattle attack and create counter attacks if an overeager Seattle leaves openings. Pauses role as captain will ask him to be the coolest head on the pitch and transfer that calmness to his teammates, even if Seattle brings waves of pressure against the backdrop of 36,000 fans.

It will be a great learning experience and Im sure a little bit of a shock for young guys who havent experienced that sort of atmosphere, Pause said. But regardless if its in front of 40,000 or in front of a couple thousand in Peoria, the game is the same.

Fire Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos doesnt see Qwest Field as a challenge that needs to be fought. Last season, the Fire played one of their best games of the season in Seattle and looked poised to draw on the road, but Montero capped his double in the ninety-second minute to steal a 2-1 win for the Sounders.

The Fires roster is hardly the same less than a year later. Its possible that as few as four players could make the start for Chicago in both the 2010 and 2011 matches. De los Cobos raved about his roster after training Thursday and spoke of the unique opportunity his team and its strong personality has ahead of it.

Its beautiful, de los Cobos said. I wish to always play with this ambiance. Its beautiful to play with at full stadium. And the motivation is the same way, because we need to show in front of 38,000 people that we are a good team.

NOTES: Defender Corey Gibbs will travel with the team to the West coast and could start on Saturday. Centerback Josip Mikulic will remain in Chicago and will miss at least the games against Seattle and Portland. De los Cobos could not say when Mikulic could be expected to return to the lineup. Dasan Robinson or 21-year-old Yamith Cuesta will replace Mikulic in the starting lineup, and if Gibbs proves unable to play, both will start.

Bears: Leonard Floyd approves of deep-dish pizza

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Bears: Leonard Floyd approves of deep-dish pizza

Leonard Floyd admitted it'll take some getting used to the Chicago weather.

As for its pizza? He's already on board with that.

The Bears' first-round selection stopped by CSN's studios late Friday night and got his first taste of deep-dish pizza, specifically a Lou Malnati's pepperoni and sausage pie.

Floyd didn't have much to say while his face was stuffed with the deep-dish.

But when he did a live chat shortly after, he confirmed that the Chicago-style pizza was as good as advertised.

"If I had three thumbs I would hold all of them up," Floyd said. "Pizza was awesome, awesome."

It's safe to say he's fitting in to the Chicago lifestyle quite well already.

Check out Floyd's entire Q+A on our Facebook page.

Recapping the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft

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Recapping the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft

The first 98 selections of the 2016 NFL Draft are in the books. Here's a look at the second and third round choices made Friday night.

(Click here for a recap of Round 1)

Round 2

32. Cleveland Browns: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

33. Tennessee Titans: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

34. Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

35. San Diego Chargers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas

36. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Baltimore): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

37. Kansas City Chiefs (via San Francisco): Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State

38. Miami Dolphins (via Baltimore via Jacksonville): Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Noah Spence, LB, Eastern Kentucky

40. New York Giants: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma

41. Buffalo Bills (via Chicago): Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama

42. Baltimore Ravens (via Miami): Kamalei Correa, LB, Boise State

43. Tennessee Titans (via Philadelphia via Los Angeles): Austin Johnson, DL, Penn State

44. Oakland Raiders: Jihad Ward, DL, Illinois

45. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles): Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

46. Detroit Lions: A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

47. New Orleans Saints: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

48. Green Bay Packers (via Indianapolis): Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

49: Seattle Seahawks (via Chicago via Buffalo): Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama

50. Houston Texans (via Atlanta): Nick Martin, OL, Notre Dame

51. New York Jets: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

52. Atlanta Falcons (via Houston): Deion Jones, LB, LSU

53. Washington Redskins: Su'a Cravens, LB, USC

54. Minnesota Vikings: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

55. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh

56. Chicago Bears (via Seattle): Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State

57. Indianapolis Colts (via Green Bay): T.J. Green, DB, Clemson

58. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sean Davis, DB, Maryland

59. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Kansas City): Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State

60. New England Patriots: Cyrus Jones, DB, Alabama

61. New Orleans Saints (via New England via Arizona): Vonn Bell, DB, Ohio State

62. Carolina Panthers: James Bradberry, DB, Samford

63. Denver Broncos: Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

THIRD ROUND

64. Tennessee Titans: Kevin Byard, DB, Middle Tennessee State

65. Cleveland Browns: Carl Nassib, DL, Penn State

66. San Diego Chargers: Max Tuerk, OL, USC

67. Dallas Cowboys: Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska

68. San Francisco 49ers: Will Redmond, DB, Mississippi State

69. Jacksonville Jaguars: Yannick Ngakoue, DL, Maryland

70. Baltimore Ravens: Bronson Kaufusi, DL, BYU

71. New York Giants: Darian Thompson, FB, Boise State

72. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida

73. Miami Dolphins: Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama

74. Kansas City Chiefs (via Tampa Bay): KeiVarae Russell, DB, Notre Dame

75. Oakland Raiders: Shilique Calhoun, DL, Michigan State

76. Cleveland Browns (via Tennessee via Los Angeles): Shon Coleman, OL, Auburn

77. Carolina Panthers (via Cleveland via Philadelphia via Detroit): Daryl Worley, DB, West Virginia

78. New England Patriots (via New Orleans): Joe Thuney, OL, N.C. State

79. Philadelphia Eagles: Isaac Seumalo, OL, Oregon State

80. Buffalo Bills: Adolphus Washington, DL, Ohio State

81. Atlanta Falcons: Autin Hooper, TE, Stanford

82. Indianapolis Colts: Le'Raven Clark, OL, Texas Tech

83. New York Jets: Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia

84. Washington Redskins: Kendall Fuller, DB, Virginia Tech

85. Houston Texans: Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State

86. Miami Dolphins (via Minnesota): Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

87. Cincinnati Bengals: Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State

88. Green Bay Packers: Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State

89. Pittsburgh Steelers: Javon Hargrave, DL, South Carolina State

90. Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame

91. New England Patriots: Jacoby Brissett, QB, North Carolina State

92. Arizona Cardinals: Brandon Williams, DB, Texas A&M

93. Cleveland Browns (via Carolina): Cody Kessler, QB, USC

94. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver): Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State

95. Detroit Lions: Graham Glasgow, OL, Michigan

96. New England Patriots: Vincent Valentine, DL, Nebraska

97. Seattle Seahawks: Rees Odhiambo, OL, Boise State

98. Denver Broncos: Justin Simmons, DB, Boston College

Bears' 3rd rounder Florida DE Jonathan Bullard to add pass rush to front three

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Bears' 3rd rounder Florida DE Jonathan Bullard to add pass rush to front three

The Bears had to cut ties with defensive end Julius Peppers a couple of years ago, only to see him change from a 4-3 end to 3-4 linebacker hybrid for the Green Bay Packers. In the third round of this year’s draft, the Bears added a player whose goal is to emulate Peppers, which would be more than fine with the Bears.

“Julius Peppers is my favorite player,” Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard said at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

Bullard was selected by the Bears with the 72nd pick of this year’s draft.

“My oldest brother actually wore No. 90 because of Julius and I wore No. 90 because of my brother but it was actually Julius," Bullard said. "We all watched him play growing up. My brother also played at a D-2 school and I wore 90 in high school.”

No. 90 came available last year when the Bears released defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff. It was taken over by Greg Scruggs when he was signed on Dec. 30 for Game 16, but could be Bullard’s in the foreseeable future, particularly if Bullard plays to his self-description.

“I would say my disruption,” Bullard said of his specific strength. “I had a lot of disruption and I make things easier for my teammates to make plays, also.”

They may be very pleased with the progress of Ego Ferguson’s rehab and recovery from season-ending knee surgery but that did not stop the Bears from adding internal pressure on the defensive line with the selection of Bullard.

“We see him as a 3-4 defensive end,” said GM Ryan Pace. “He played defensive end [at Florida], bulked up and played more of a three-technique position for them.

“When you watch tape on him, there’s one thing you can’t coach, and that’s get-off. His get-off is excellent and I think there’s a lot of advantages from just that alone.”

Bullard, 6-3, 285, had 6.5 sacks in 2015 along with 17.5 tackles for loss, good enough to be a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award. He started eight games at defensive end in 2013, then all 12 games in 2014 and 14 his senior season.

“My junior year I started back out at end…but most of my senior year it was 3-technique,” Bullard said.

With the Bears set at nose tackle with Eddie Goldman and defensive end with Akiem Hicks, Bullard is expected to be part of a rotation inside in sub packages, which the Bears operated out of some 60 percent of the time in 2015, per GM Ryan Pace.

“I think because off my versatility,” Bullard said. “I can do whatever you want me to do on your defensive line, inside to outside, quickness to hold the point. So I think I’m going to bring a lot to your team.’’