Rubio, Roy preach patience to Rose in recovery process

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Rubio, Roy preach patience to Rose in recovery process

Friday nights contest was a typical preseason game, with the Bulls avenging last Saturdays loss in Minneapolis by beating the Timberwolves at the United Center. It may have been more notable, however, by its absences.

No offense to Minnesota All-Star power forward Kevin Love, out for six to eight weeks with a broken hand, but eyes across the league are on the ongoing recoveries of two of the games premier floor generals and elite young players, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and his Timberwolves counterpart, Ricky Rubio.

Everybody in Chicago knows the saga of Rose, who suffered an ACL injury in the Bulls playoff opener against the 76ers last spring. Rubio suffered a similarly devastating injury in March, but with a couple months head start, hes closer to coming back to the court and therefore, worth monitoring for anybody with even a passing interest in either Rose himself or the Bulls as a whole.

Ive been working every day and Im dying to come back. I want to come back soon, but I know that if I come back early, its hard for me, so I want to make sure everythings fine, said the affable Rubio before the game. Im close to start practicing with five-on-zero, no contact. I dont know how long, maybe a month from that, but I want to come back as soon as possible. But like I said, I want to be healthy, so Im at a stage now where I can do more things, like running and I think Im close to being athletic again.

Im able to jump a little bit, so I can start practicing some jump shots, but only moving forward, not lateral yet, continued the native of Spain, who added that he cant do any cutting yet. I hope in two weeks. I dont know yet. Lets see when I start running harder and longer, and see if I dont have swelling at all. Then I can do more things.

Chimed in Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman: Hes doing fine. Hes progressing every day. Hes been moving up, as far as his running. Its still just straightaway running; its not cutting or anything. He was just shooting set shots now. Hes jumping a little bit. I talked to him today, this morning, and he said hopefully in the next couple of weeks, hes going to increase his running, his acceleration.

Im sure were just like Chicago. You want to get him back, but you want to be sure theyre comfortable coming back. But I think hes probably just like Chicagos guy. Theyre going to work their tail off to come back and thats what Rickys been doing. Hes been working, hes around the team all the time and were hoping when he does come back, that he can play, but even when he does come back, its going to take some time and hes going to have his ups and downs, and were going to have to find a way to work him in. But its going to be good to have him back.

At the time of his injury, Rubio had established himself as a budding superstar, was challenging Clevelands Kyrie Irving in the Rookie of the Year race and had Minnesotas long-suffering fan base thinking playoffs. But as he said in reference to Loves ill-timed injury We have so much bad luck on this team.

Still, the point guard remains optimistic and expressed high hopes for not only himself, but Rose, as well.

I know its tough. Its a tough injury. Youre six, eight, nine months without playing your favorite sport, and sometimes playing basketball is where you forget about everything and you just enjoy it, so I wish him a healthy recovery, he explained. Ive talked with Spanish guys who have had the same injury like Raul Lopez, who was in the NBA for a couple years and every player is different. Nobody has the same injury maybe a little more meniscus or two ligaments so every player is different, every recovery is different. We dont have to look at somebody else to see where one can come back, so you just take your time, but work hard every day to come back.

Well, in the beginning, it was physical because you were in so much pain and you had to fight every day, and you had to bend the knee, and every day was painful and then, when that pains goes away, you just have to work out and see your teammates, and all your friends playing. Not just basketball games, but basketball in the street, Rubio went on to say.

Added Adelman: I think you have to be a little bit cautious, for sure, when youre bringing him back. Its not like Kevins injury, where its a broken bone. He can still run and everything. But weve got to be careful. Thats why I say, when he comes back, you dont know what the timeframe is going to be, but its still going to be good to have him when he does come back, but we have to be cautious with him and make sure. But thats down the line.

Ironically, Minnesota also has former All-Star Brandon Roy on its roster. Roy was one of the elite shooting guards in the league before his recurring knee issues got to the point where it was bone on bone and he temporarily retired, before launching a comeback and signing with the Timberwolves during the offseason, over interest from the Bulls, among others.

Just going through the mental grind of being back in the league, the ups and downs. Some nights feel great. Some nights, not so great, so physically, I feel really good. Right now, mentally, Im just trying to learn the team, learn the system and then get used to playing the game day in and day out, said Roy about his own progress, before giving some advice to be passed along to Rose.

The biggest thing for him that I would say is just to be patient. Hes a young guy, hes got his whole career ahead of him and again, being patient and being mentally tough I think is the biggest challenge.

After 'year off,' Mike Denbrock ready to develop Notre Dame's next crop of WRs

After 'year off,' Mike Denbrock ready to develop Notre Dame's next crop of WRs

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame faced a similar question in 2014 it faces now: Who’s going to catch the ball?

Two years ago, Notre Dame entered the season having lost 70 percent of its receptions, 74 percent of its receiving yards and 78 percent of its receiving touchdowns from the 2013 season. The answer to the question turned out to be a guy who only had six catches as a freshman the previous year — Will Fuller.

Notre Dame might or might not have another breakout candidate like Fuller on its roster this year. But there’s a constant between 2014 and 2016: wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock.

The Irish are without Fuller (62 catches, 1,258 yards, 14 touchdowns), who became a first-round pick of the Houston Texans after turning pro earlier this year, along with Chris Brown (48 catches, 597 yards, four touchdowns), Amir Carlisle (32 catches, 355 yards, one touchdown) and Corey Robinson (16 catches, 200 yards, one touchdown) at the receiver position.

Add in the losses of running back C.J. Prosise (26 catches, 308 yards, one touchdown) and tight ends Alize Jones (13 catches, 190 yards) and Chase Hounshell (one catch, six yards), and Notre Dame has to replace 82 percent of its 2015 receptions, 87 percent of its receiving yards and 84 percent of its receiving touchdowns this fall.

“It’s like starting over,” Denbrock said. “Last year was kind of a little bit of a year off for me, quite frankly. I mean, I had guys that had heard me say the same things for three years and had kind of got used to being out there in the fray and doing it. Now it kind of regenerates itself and we start all over again, which for me is kind of exciting.

“I love the challenge, I love the dynamic of the group. I love their attention to trying to do things the right way, we’re just a little bit inexperienced and we’re learning how to do things the right way.”

Denbrock is in his fifth year coaching Notre Dame’s wide receivers (he spent 2010 and 2011 as the Irish tight ends coach and helped develop Tyler Eifert there, too) and has overseen that regeneration of a receiving corps after the losses of three go-to options in Michael Floyd, T.J. Jones and Fuller. And while an offense requires all its units — quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen — working together to succeed, it’s worth noting Notre Dame’s passing S&P+ rankings since Denbrock took over the Irish receivers:

2012: fifth

2013: 15th

2014: 13th

2015: eighth

Even if you might view some of those rankings as a bit bullish — like 2012’s, which seems high for a year in which Notre Dame deployed a conservative run-first offense — they’re solid evidence of Denbrock’s success in developing reliable pass-catchers.

“He's someone that doesn’t take anything less than what you can give,” redshirt junior receiver and captain Torii Hunter Jr. said. “He expects you to give 100 percent all the time. He just wants you to max out your potential, whatever it may be. And I’m grateful for the type of coach that he is because he never lets us get away with half-done.”

Of course, it helps that Notre Dame has recruited exceedingly well at the receiver position over the last few years. Jones, DaVaris Daniels, Corey Robinson, Fuller, Hunter, Corey Holmes, Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, C.J. Sanders, Chase Claypool and Javon McKinley were all Rivals four-star recruits, while three-star recruit Chris Brown developed into a rock-solid player and fellow three-star prospect Kevin Stepherson impressed during spring and preseason camp (he's expected to play against Texas despite his arrest earlier this month).

While coach Brian Kelly said he’s “concerned” and that all those inexperienced receivers — St. Brown, Sanders, Boykin, Holmes, Claypool, McKinley, Stepherson and ex-walk-on Chris Finke — are “suspects,” he has an immense amount of trust in Denbrock. The two have coached together for 16 non-consecutive seasons, with Denbrock serving as both an offensive and defensive coordinator, a tight ends coach, a wide receivers coach and an associate head coach. Denbrock, too, has coached offensive line and linebackers at various stops in his 30-year coaching career.

“He knows the offense and the system and he knows what I look for and what I'm trying to do, and so it's a great relationship because I don't have to micromanage him,” Kelly said. “All I have to do is kind of say, this is the direction I would like to go, and he's off and running.

“So any time you have that, and a longstanding relationship with somebody that knows exactly where you want to go, it allows to you do so many other things and it allows me to help coach some of the players at a level, a grass roots level that sometimes the head coach doesn't get a chance to do.”

There’s been some inconsistency with players during practice in August, but that’s to be expected with such a green group.

“He’s on us hard,” St. Brown said. “He knows he has to be harder than ever because we have a young group of receivers.”

But why should 2016, even with all the uncertainty surrounding that position, be any different? There’s that saying that you should never bet against a streak. And Denbrock is on a pretty good streak.

“I just think you gotta be very consistent and very demanding with what you ask them to do and not let their youthfulness be an excuse for not playing at the level they should play at,” Denbrock said. “They get it, they understand it, and they’re growing.”

Injury clouds may be disappearing over (some) Bears

Injury clouds may be disappearing over (some) Bears

The daily litany of injuries and practice limitations through training camp and to this point of preseason have been stories. But they typically do not take on real significance until about this time of the football year, when teams swing onto final approach for their first regular-season game.

Against that backdrop, the Bears’ injury forecast was trending the right direction on Monday when No. 1 tight end Zach Miller and No. 1 nickel receiver Eddie Royal, both out for extended periods going through the team’s concussion protocol, were practicing without the don’t-hit-me red practice jerseys they were in as recently as last week.

Right guard Kyle Long, down with a shoulder injury since the New England game, was not in practice pads Monday but trotted over to a nearby goalpost at one point during practice, got into his stance and delivered a couple of linemen “punches” to the padding.

All three are vital components of a struggling offense in desperate need of impact players at any position.

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Rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd, held out of the Kansas City game on Saturday with hamstring soreness, was in uniform as well. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who had knee surgery two weeks ago, was out running laps around the practice field, although he remains a longshot to be active for the Sept. 11 opener in Houston.

The situation was less encouraging for linebacker Pernell McPhee, who continues to do only controlled running and cutting along the sidelines as he works back from knee surgery in January. Chances of his return for the start of the regular season appear next to nil.

“We’ve got some avenues that we’re going to have to decide here as we cut down [the roster] to the 53 and some time from now, so I don’t like making those decisions now,” said coach John Fox. “But we’ll continue to evaluate him. There are options. He did start [training camp] on PUP [physically unable to perform]. We have a lot of options and we’ll do what’s best for us and him.”

The team has kept details of McPhee’s procedure and injury in-house. But teammate Willie Young, whose 2014 season ended with an Achilles injury of his own, offered a perspective that hinted at how serious McPhee’s injury may have been.

“It’s a credit to him, because to bounce back from any what used to be career-ending injuries is a challenge,” Young said, adding, “but he’s on course, I would say.”

Badgers linebacker T.J. Edwards won't play in opener vs. LSU

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Badgers linebacker T.J. Edwards won't play in opener vs. LSU

Wisconsin will be without last season's leading tackler when it opens the season Saturday at Lambeau Field.

Head coach Paul Chryst told reporters Monday that linebacker T.J. Edwards won't play this weekend against LSU.

Edwards led the Badgers with 84 tackles last season. He fractured his foot during the summer, didn't practice at all during fall camp and isn't on the team's most recent depth chart.

Jack Cichy and Chris Orr are listed as Wisconsin's two starting inside linebackers on the current depth chart.

The Badgers have a tough test to open the 2016 campaign. The Tigers are ranked as the No. 5 team in the preseason AP poll and boast one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in running back Leonard Fournette.