Hayes, not Roach, the possible fault line in Bears revamped D

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Hayes, not Roach, the possible fault line in Bears revamped D

The focus of attention this week has been on the man replacing Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker. Less has been on the man replacing Nick Roach.
 
And against the No. 1 running back in football, Geno Hayes looms as a more vulnerable fault line in the defense than Roach-for-Urlacher.

RELATED: Urlacher's future not dependent on Roach
 
This is not my first time around, Hayes insisted. Its not my first rodeo.
 
For NFL purposes, however, it pretty much is. Hayes is a career weak-side linebacker.
 
And sources told CSNChicago.com in training camp that Hayes, never a strong-side linebacker in his career, was initially something of a disappointment despite having come from a Tampa Bay scheme similar to the Bears. At one point, coaches tried Blake Costanzo at middle linebacker, leaving Roach in his usual spot and Hayes on the bench.
 
Hayes eventually established something with extensive preseason playing time, important now because he has never started a game at that position.
 
Now he starts there with exactly 48 defensive snaps this season and at 226 pounds, vs. Adrian Peterson, who is taller, faster and nearly as big as Hayes.
 
The problem becomes compounded because the Vikings have used 248-pound fullback Jerome Felton on 36 percent of their snaps this season.
 
And as the strong-side linebacker, Hayes' base position will be opposite tight end Kyle Rudolph, 6-6, 259 pounds and rarely off the field (725 of 788 Minnesota snaps).
 
How much Hayes picked up in his preseason time will be on display Sunday afternoon.
 
It was great getting good experience in the preseason, getting accustomed to the defense, accustomed with the guys. I was out there playing ball day in and day out. So, it was great. Its part of my job description.
 
Now it is his job description.

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Doug McDermott scores career-best 31 to lead Bulls past Grizzlies

Doug McDermott scores career-best 31 to lead Bulls past Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Doug McDermott scored a career-high 31 points, Jimmy Butler had a pair of key baskets in the closing minute and the Chicago Bulls beat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 on Sunday night.

The Bulls broke a 104-all tie with 25 seconds left on a 15-footer from Butler and a pair of free throws by McDermott. Butler also had a go-ahead 18-footer with 53 seconds left and finished with 16 points to help Chicago win its second straight.

Taj Gibson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls.

Mike Conley led Memphis with 28 points and eight assists, and Marc Gasol had 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Chicago was without second-leading scorer Dwyane Wade, who did not play on the second night of a back-to-back after the Bulls beat New Orleans at home Saturday.

The game featured 16 lead changes and 11 ties, with neither team holding a double-digit lead.

Most of McDermott's damage came in the first half after the Bulls struggled shooting in the latter part of the first quarter. McDermott came off the bench to reverse the trend.

McDermott scored 20 points in the first eight minutes of the second quarter, moving Chicago's lead to eight. He had 22 points for the half and the Bulls led 52-46 at the break.

TIP-INS

Bulls: Nikola Mirotic missed his fourth straight game dealing with an illness. ... F Paul Zipser, a rookie from Germany, started his second game and second straight after coming off the bench in his first 10 appearances this season. ... McDermott converted a four-point play in the second quarter. ... McDermott's 22 first-half points were more than his total for the four previous games (21). ... Chicago scored 14 points in the first quarter, a season low for the opening frame. ... The Bulls are now 4-5 on the second night of back-to-backs.

Grizzlies: Gasol made a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, marking 17 games this season he has made multiple shots from outside the arc. ... Memphis made 11 3-pointers in the game and has converted at least 10 3s in 20 games this season, including 11 of the last 14 games.

MLK HOLIDAY

This is the 15th season Memphis has hosted a game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The Grizzlies are 6-9 in the holiday game.

In recognition of the holiday, Memphis wore special MLK50 Pride uniforms. The black jerseys have sea foam blue numbers, letters and piping with the full T-shirt look instead of the normal sleeveless. The piping replicated the railing in front the rooms at the Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated in 1968, and the blue color was similar to the doors on the rooms.

MISSING WADE

Wade's absence meant missing a reunion with Memphis coach David Fizdale. Both left the Miami Heat organization after last season - Wade signing with the Bulls and Fizdale getting his first head coaching job in Memphis. Fizdale said he is sort of a "basketball romantic" and would like to have seen Wade retire in Miami. But he predicted after the player's career "his statue will be out front and (Wade) will be remembered as the great player that he should be."

UP NEXT

Bulls: Return home to face the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Grizzlies: Memphis travels to Washington to face the Wizards on Wednesday night.