Was Cutler 'protection' adequate?

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Was Cutler 'protection' adequate?

The topic of the day and what will be until it just isnt 'The Topic' was the state of quarterback Jay Cutler following his concussion. It is a genuine NFL-wide topic for various reasons, as Mike Florio and I discussed in some detail on ProFootballTalk.coms PFT Live on Monday.

Mike raised the question of whether proper procedures and safeguards were observed by Cutler not being removed from the game right after the blow to the head by Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins. Cutler stayed down for a few moments as officials and medical staff checked him out and he was allowed to stay in the game.

But should he have?

My thought was that this is an extremely difficult area for officials, who are in the spot of ring referees in a prize fight. A fighter takes a standing eight-count, the referee checks briefly to see if they can defend themselves and the fight continues if the boxer can maintain his hands up.

Mike rightly noted that the officials are in a tough spot of possibly ordering a key player off the field, with the obvious potential impact on the game. Obviously the league is concerned about the protection of players from concussion effects and Lovie Smith and the Bears are insistent that they will not have a player on the field who is significantly injured.

My early guess is that Cutler will not play against the San Francisco 49ers, who also may be without their starting quarterback after Alex Smith suffered a concussion in the 49ers tie with the St. Louis Rams.

If not Cutler

The natural follow-up issue was where the Bears are with Jason Campbell taking over. Mike and everyone else remembers the death spiral after Caleb Hanie took over after Cutlers thumb injury at about this point last season. The Bears certainly do, which is why signing a Campbell was an offseason priority of incoming GM Phil Emery last offseason.

Mike observed that Campbell was not overly effective coming in for the second half on Sunday. A fair share of that owes to the quality of the Houston defense, and I noted that players told me in the locker room afterwards that the Texans were taking away anything deep in a one-score game.

Campbell did have a 45-yard completion to Brandon Marshall but that was about all other than some very unproductive dump-offs to tight ends and Matt Forte.

Looking post-season

The Houston game was the first of six straight against teams currently with winning records (Houston, San Francisco, Minnesota, Seattle, Minnesota, Green Bay). Mikes thought was how the Bears could fall from a No. 1 or 2 seed to having to fight to get in as the fifth or sixth seed via wild card.

That could be the case even with Cutler returning sooner rather than later. The Packers have won four straight to reach 6-3, and Seattle and Minnesota represent important games in potential head-to-head tiebreakers.

Mike mentioned the job that Adrian Peterson did on the Detroit Lions yesterday. Ill address this in more detail as the Vikings approach but one person the Bears have done well to control is Peterson in recent years, after he simply annihilated them early in his career. Peterson had 39 yards in the first Bears game last year, missing the second with the knee injury he is clearly well beyond.

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”

North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

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North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

Tim Beckman is coaching Power Five conference football again, something that came as a big surprise to many a year after Beckman was fired for mistreating players at Illinois.

But his new "boss" — Beckman is a volunteer assistant at North Carolina — doesn't seem to have any problem with Beckman being a part of his staff.

North Carolina head Larry Fedora — who worked alongside Beckman when the two were coordinators at Oklahoma State in 2007 — was asked about Beckman on Wednesday, and had some comments that seemed to show he doesn't care about the reasoning behind Beckman's firing.

"I don't believe everything I read, all right," Fedora told reporters, his quotes tweeted by Andrew Carter of the News & Observer. "I know Tim. I know his side of the story, also. So I was comfortable with it. If I wouldn't have been, obviously I wouldn't have brought him. I wouldn't have allowed him to be in our program. But I was very comfortable with it. I don't have any issues with it at all."

When asked about criticism and questions surrounding Beckman's presence, Fedora responded, "I know it's going to happen, and then a couple of days from now it won't be news. I mean, I promise you, I didn't see anywhere where the NCAA said that he should be banished from the game of football. You know? I mean, the guy didn't win enough games. That's all it was."

Well, coach, that's not all it was.

Beckman was fired a week before the start of last season when an investigation found evidence supporting social-media accusations months earlier that Beckman mistreated players by forcing them to play injured, demeaning players with injuries and threatening to take away players' scholarships.

While it's true Beckman was on the hot seat for winning just four Big Ten games in three seasons, he would've been the coach to start last season had it not been for the results of that investigation.

Now, in his role at North Carolina, it was reported Wednesday, Beckman is relegated to scouting and film study. But he is allowed to travel with the team, meaning he could show up in Champaign on Sept. 10, when North Carolina plays Illinois at Memorial Stadium.

Illini announce Kipper Nichols will be eligible after fall semester

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Illini announce Kipper Nichols will be eligible after fall semester

John Groce will get a midseason addition this year in the form of Kipper Nichols.

The Illini announced Wednesday that Nichols will sit out the fall semester and be eligible to play once the semester is over, anticipating his first game will be Dec. 17 against BYU at the United Center.

Here's the full announcement from Illinois:

"Fighting Illini redshirt freshman forward Kipper Nichols will sit out the 2016 fall semester to complete his academic year in residence. Nichols will be eligible following the conclusion of the fall semester, which is anticipated to begin with the BYU game on Dec. 17. Nichols joined the Illinois program in December and sat out the 2016 spring semester while practicing with the team. He will have three and a half years of eligibility with the Illini."

Nichols signed with Tulane as a member of the Class of 2015, but after attending classes for just a few days he decided to transfer, eventually picking the Illini and signing with Groce & Co. in November.

Nichols is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward rated as a three-star prospect out of the Cleveland area by Rivals.