Player D-coordinator: If not Nick Roach, then...?

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Player D-coordinator: If not Nick Roach, then...?

During the preseason, the Bears experimented with Blake Costanzo at middle linebacker with Brian Urlacher out while his injured knee healed. If they need to fill for Nick Roach on Sunday, Costanzo is the likely replacement with Dom DeCicco the latest roster addition.

But there are some other options, even if those options dont particularly like them.

One is to move Lance Briggs from his weak-side spot into the middle. Hes having none of that.

This is my 10th year, and Ive never played Mike. Briggs said on Thursday. It would be easier to play Sam. It would be easier for me to play nickel cornerback than it would be for me to play Mike.

It would indeed. Briggs was the starting strong-side linebacker his rookie season (2003) under Dick Jauron and Greg Blache. He has played the dime defensive back in the past because coach Lovie Smith reasoned that Briggs was better in coverage than the No. 4 cornerback or safety.

So why not Briggs to the strong-side spot and Geno Hayes to weak-side linebacker, where he has played his entire career?

Because then the Bears will have shuffled three different positions to fix one. At least with Roach going to the middle and Hayes to the strong side, its only two changes.

Another possible change would be rookie Shea McClellin to strong-side linebacker from defensive end. McClellin is being dropped into short zone coverages occasionally and was a hybrid linebackerpass rusher at Boise State.

The kid will pass, thank you very much.

Coaches want me to play defensive end and thats what Im focusing on right now, McClellin. I just want to get better at defensive end and not worry about another position.

Well see what happens.

Best guess is that McClellin could be used in different alignments against the Minnesota Vikings. He occasionally was even inside at defensive tackle against the Seattle Seahawks and was used to spy on mobile quarterback Russell Wilson.

Christian Ponder lacks Wilsons mobility but the need to flow to Adrian Petersons point of attack is critical, and McClellin may be positioned better to do that from an upright, two-point stance.

Hes athletic enough to drop back and do all those things, Briggs said. But no, were using him the right way. Our game plan and the way we run our defense is effective enough. You dont have to go out and do a bunch of extra things. If we just go out and play our solid defense, well be fine.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."