Vikings game a test for Emery GM efforts

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Vikings game a test for Emery GM efforts

Besides its obvious playoff implications, the Bears-Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday becomes a spot referendum on the first year of general manager Phil Emery.
One of Emerys clear missions in his first stint as a GM was to muscle up the Bears depth chart from its level of 2011 that cost the Bears a playoff berth.
In addition to draft choices and a trade (Brandon Marshall):Quarterback: Jason Campbell for Caleb Hanie.

Running back: Michael Bush for Marion Barber.

Offensive line: Chilo Rachal for Frank Omiyale, Jonathan Scott for Chris Williams.

Linebacker: Geno Hayes for everybody.

Cornerback: Kelvin Hayden for D.J. Moore, Zackary Bowman (Bowman has since been brought back).

Not all of the moves have worked, for various reasons. But a key to the Bears regaining some momentum in a playoff direction now will depend on significant contributions from Hayes and Hayden in particular, and on Scott.

During the course of the year youre going to be playing without players for a brief period of time, said coach Lovie Smith. We thought we would get lucky being this late in the year but thats not the case.

Hayden will start for injured Tim Jennings. Hayes starts at strong-side linebacker with Nick Roach sliding into Brian Urlachers spot. Scott is tasked with controlling the rush of Minnesota Vikings end Brian Robison (5.5 sacks) in quarterback Jay Cutlers face.

Sharp corner

Hayden replaces a virtual Pro Bowl lock in Jennings, with his eight interceptions. The Vikings are without franchise wide receiver Percy Harvin and are the worst passing offense in the NFL (just ahead of the Bears).

More importantly, one reason Hayden already had replaced D.J. Moore at nickel back was because of more size and physicality, which becomes an added asset against an offense built around running back Adrian Peterson.

The situation thats at hand, you dont wish that upon anybody, said Hayden, who signed with the Bears for one year and is playing for his future. Its always good to be out there every play, out there having fun, making plays and enjoying the moment.

If a guy goes down on the second play of the game, you want to be prepared and ready to go. Thats my whole job is just to be ready when my number is called. Im going to try to continue to do the same.

Ironically, Hayden and Jennings were once teammates with the Indianapolis Colts. Jennings has 61 career starts, Hayden 47.

Hayes happening

Hayes started 42 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in a defensive system similar to the Bears. Like Hayden, he signed for one year and is getting his first Chicago start.

Its a great opportunity, Hayes said. Anytime you get the opportunity to step on the field and make plays, its always that chance youve got to go out there and take something. Its big.

I try not to think about his contract situation. I just want to go out there and play ball. Contract and that stuff is for after season. Right now, all Ive got to do is go out there and do my job. Thats all Im here to do.

Jaylon Smith taken No. 34 by Dallas Cowboys

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Jaylon Smith taken No. 34 by Dallas Cowboys

Where Jaylon Smith would land in this year's NFL Draft was one of the biggest questions heading into the second round, which began Friday night in Chicago. 

We didn't have to wait long for an answer.

The Dallas Cowboys took Smith with the 34th overall pick, just three selections into the second round. Smith, who won the Butkus Award in 2015, isn't likely to play in 2016 after suffering a torn ACL and LCL in the Fiesta Bowl that also contained damage to the nerve in his knee. 

John Danks to start for White Sox on Wednesday

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John Danks to start for White Sox on Wednesday

BALTIMORE — John Danks will get another turn in the White Sox rotation.

Even though he could have manipulated the team’s rotation with a day off upcoming, manager Robin Ventura said Friday that Danks would start again on Wednesday night at home against the Boston Red Sox. Danks allowed six runs in Thursday’s loss and fell to 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in four starts.

“You’re sitting there going through it, he was just in the middle of the plate (Thursday),” Ventura said. “I think he has a good changeup, still battles and all that stuff. I know he’s frustrated. But where we’re at, we need him to battle, and at this point, that’s what we’re doing.”

Entering Friday, the White Sox won eight of their past 10 games with their only losses coming in both of Danks’ starts. Danks had his best turn of the season on April 21 when he limited the Los Angeles Angels to two runs over six innings. But he had no fastball command on Thursday and the Baltimore Orioles made him pay. Danks said he’s only focused on his work when he was asked Thursday about the big picture.

“I’ve got enough to worry about here than anything else,” Danks said. “I’ll be ready to go. I’ll work hard. I’m not going to pout or anything. Never have or never will. I guess it’s part of it. It’s not easy, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s work hard and get ready to take the ball.”

After the game, Ventura said the White Sox would work to help Danks, who’s in the final season of a five-year contract. Not only has Danks allowed two home runs per nine innings, his highest total since 2013, he also has walked 4.4 batters per nine, a career-worst.

“We’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that and continue to make him better so he can help us,” Ventura said.

Reliever Tommy Kahnle joins White Sox as Daniel Webb goes on DL

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Reliever Tommy Kahnle joins White Sox as Daniel Webb goes on DL

BALTIMORE — Reliever Tommy Kahnle is set to join the White Sox, who placed Daniel Webb on the 15-day disabled list late Friday afternoon.

Webb, who pitched in Thursday’s blowout loss, has right elbow flexor inflammation.

A November trade acquisition, Kahnle had one save, a 3.00 ERA and 12 strikeouts in nine innings at Triple-A Charlotte this season. The White Sox acquired Kahnle from the Colorado Rockies on Nov. 24 in exchange for Yency Almonte.

The move to the DL comes only two days after Webb joined the team in part to cover David Robertson, who went on the bereavement list on Thursday. Webb made his 2016 debut Thursday and struck out three in a scoreless inning. He could be seen wearing an ice pack in the clubhouse before Friday’s game.  

Kahnle was a Rule 5 pick of the Rockies in 2014 off the roster of the New York Yankees. He has a 4.41 career ERA in 90 major league appearances between 2014-15.

The move comes at the end of a busy week for the previously healthy White Sox.

Catcher Alex Avila, who has made good progress, according to Robin Ventura, was placed on the DL on Sunday with a sore right hamstring. His replacement, catcher Kevan Smith, suffered back spasms during warmups Monday only a few hours before he was set to make his major league debut. Smith went on the DL the next day and is in Glendale, Ariz. to rehab his injury.

Though he didn’t go on the bereavement list until Thursday, Robertson knew he’d need three days off, which allowed the White Sox to call up Webb on Wednesday.