Spond finding his groove for Notre Dame

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Spond finding his groove for Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Type "Danny Spond" into Google and the third suggested result that comes up is "Danny Spond stroke."

Two months ago, Notre Dame's corner of the Internet was lighting up with rumors the junior linebacker had suffered a stroke, as whispers about the unknown condition that forced Spond into a hospital for a few days grew louder. Spond didn't have a stroke, though -- he had about as severe a migraine as possibly imaginable.

"That's definitely the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life," Spond said. "I would rather take a lot of injuries than a migraine, that's for sure. Not only scaring me to death with all the symptoms that came along with it, but just the absolute excruciating pounding I felt for a week, just constant.

"There are very few things that I felt that were that painful. I would never wish anything upon anybody that bad."

Spond didn't have any of the telltale migraine warning signs, and said doctors still don't know what caused it. He missed most of fall camp and Notre Dame's first two games, slowly working his way back into Notre Dame's defensive plans. But once he got that first hit out of the way, Spond knew he was ready to return.

"Mentally, I'm at a point where i'm fully relying on God to take care of me out there," Spond said. "Games like this, when we played Stanford and Michigan and Oklahoma this week, they're real physical games, there's a lot of head-banging. I've got all my faith in God."

Spond started against Michigan State and has taken off from there, recording 23 tackles, two passes broken up and an interception as Notre Dame's "dog" linebacker in its 3-4 defense.

"It definitely didn't start out the way I wanted to -- no one wants to start off the season watching, that's for sure, just being like a coach on the sideline," Spond explained. "But I knew once I got my chance to get back in there, once I could finally heal up, there was nothing that was going to stop me because I got a second chance, basically. That's just been my mentality since I returned."

A prep safety (and quarterback) in Littleton, Colo., Spond has had to adjust to playing a position that requires him to not only drop back in coverage but also to attack the line of scrimmage to stop running plays. He said that transition from pass coverage to run stopping has been the most difficult challenge to the position, but with experience has come confidence.

"I've gotten pretty comfortable with it now, and I feel like I know it better than anyone," Spond said. "It's taken time, there's no doubt about it, it's a tough position that has a lot of responsibilities and jobs. But the more you do it the better you get at it."

As BYU tried to mount a comeback last weekend, Spond broke up a key pass and intercepted Riley Nelson's final throw of the game, sealing a 17-14 win for Notre Dame. Brian Kelly was quick to point out his pass-coverage ability after the game, noting Spond stays on the field for Notre Dame's nickel package as a cornerback.

"Kid has been tremendous," Kelly added."He's been an unsung player on our defense and we appreciate him.I'm not saying you guys don't, but he's just played really, really well for us and he's not even coming off the field."

The next challenge for Spond comes against a powerful Oklahoma offense that's torched Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas for 156 points in its last three games. It's the first time a top-10 Notre Dame team has faced a top-10 opponent in nearly six years, and it carries with is legitimate national championship implications for the Irish. While Notre Dame's mantra may be that every game is big from here on out, this one does carry more weight.

"It's exciting," Spond said. "This is why you play the game, a top-10 matchup like this. It's the reason you're out here. It's fun."

Fire continue road trip Wednesday at improved Seattle on CSN

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Fire continue road trip Wednesday at improved Seattle on CSN

One team is playing as well as it has all season and is closing in on a playoff spot. The other team is facing the possibility of elimination by the end of the night.

A hot Seattle Sounders team hosts the struggling Chicago Fire on Wednesday on CSN. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m.

Seattle (11-13-5, 38 points) is 5-1-2 in its past eight matches. The Sounders have been boosted by the arrival of Argentine playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro and likely Rookie of the Year winner Jordan Morris has been red-hot. Lodeiro has three goals and eight assists in nine matches. Morris is up to 12 goals on the season after scoring four in the past four games.

“Of course we are very, very careful with their transition with guys like Morris up in front,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “They can be very dangerous in attack.”

[SHOP: Pick up a Fire home jersey here]

The Fire played at New York City FC on Friday. The team returned to Chicago before making the trip to the Pacific Northwest. All that travel in a short period of time plus facing a surging team in front of a big crowd at CenturyLink Field is not a good recipe for success for the Fire.

While the Sounders are closing in on the playoffs — they sit three points back of sixth-place Portland but have two games in hand — the Fire (6-14-9, 27 points) are trying to get out of last place. The Fire are five points below the closest teams in the standings, Columbus and Houston. If Montreal beats San Jose and D.C. defeats Columbus, both games that will finish before kickoff Wednesday in Seattle, the Fire would need to get at least a tie to avoid being eliminated from playoff contention.

Despite the long odds to make the playoffs, Paunovic says motivation is not a problem.

“That’s part of our job, keep them motivated and work on that,” Paunovic said. “So far because of their commitment, I think that was easier to do. We of course have to continue doing that. The team is already addressed on that.

“We have the responsibility for ourselves. We have the responsibility for our profession and we have a responsibility for our supporters.”

The Fire arrived in Seattle without goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who is out for the second straight game with a toe injury. Lampson hasn’t started in MLS play since Aug. 6. The only other injury listed by the club is John Goossens, who has missed the past two matches with a back injury. Goossens is questionable.

The big news out of Seattle is that Clint Dempsey’s irregular heartbeat, which has kept him out of the past five matches, has ended his 2016 season early. Dempsey’s loss is massive, but Seattle still has plenty of talent for the Fire to worry about.

“They like to keep the possession, especially in the opponent’s half,” Paunovic said of the Sounders. “They have very quality players in the final third. Since the coming of Lodeiro I think the team improved very well. They look more confident and of course they have much better results. Playing at home I think they have very good support and they feel more confident, but they are a team that is not unbeatable. They also had early in the season their issues and there are some weaknesses we can say that we detected and we are going to try to take advantage of.”

Chicago Fire at Seattle Sounders

When: 9:30 p.m. Wednesday

TV: CSN

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Bears make Joique Bell, CJ Wilson signings official, send Kyle Fuller to IR

Bears make Joique Bell, CJ Wilson signings official, send Kyle Fuller to IR

With injuries all over the place, the Bears had a bevy of roster moves to announce on Tuesday night.

The most notable of those were the signings of running back Joique Bell and defensive lineman CJ Wilson, as well as moving injured defensive back Kyle Fuller to injured reserve.

Bell is a five-year NFL veteran whose played in 68 games in his career, most recently over the course of four seasons with the Detroit Lions from 2012 to 2015. In his career, he's rushed for 2,234 yards and 22 touchdowns on 561 attempts.

Wilson has spent the past six seasons in the NFL and has played for Bears division rivals the Green Bay Packers and the Lions, as well as the Oakland Raiders. He's played in 78 games in his career, contributing 111 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

Fuller hasn't appeared in any of the Bears first three games after appearing in 32 games over his first two NFL seasons.

Additionally, the Bears announced that linebacker John Timu has been elevated to the active roster and that linebacker Jonathan Anderson and tight end Greg Scruggs have been waived.