Bears improved via draft but hard to measure any gain on Pack

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Bears improved via draft but hard to measure any gain on Pack

The prime directive for Phil Emery going into the 2012 draft was to improve the pass rush, the passing game and the secondary vs. the receiving threats in Detroit and Green Bay.

The Bears ostensibly did all of those with defensive end Shea McClellin in the first round, wideout Alshon Jeffery in the second and tight end Evan Rodriguez in the fourth rounds, and cornerback-turning-safety Brandon Hardin in the third.

I felt like we did very well in the overriding thing, finding the players that can help us the quickest to reach our goals of winning a championship, said the general manager after running his first draft. We felt very good. We made progress in that area.

But whether they gained on the Lions or Packers the Vikings are far enough back to be omitted from this discussion, even with a solid draft is problematic.

The Lions improved protection for Matthew Stafford with Iowa tackle Reilly Reiff in the first round and a receiver (Ryan Broyles) in the second, although Broyles was out of Combine drills because of injuries to both knees. Then they went defense with their next six picks, all of them linebackers or defensive backs.

The Packers used their first six picks on defense, four of them in the front seven of their 3-4. GM Ted Thompson has a strong draft record, doesnt miss badly on too many picks, so chances are Green Bay will not be in the 30s defensively again.

Of course, the Packers may be positioning themselves to take a precipitous step backwards in the division, and more.

The Packers are prepared to go into the 2012 season with no quarterback other than Aaron Rodgers who has ever taken an NFL snap. Coach Mike McCarthy told NFL sage Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel this weekend that Green Bay wasnt going after a veteran quarterback, potentially setting Thompson up for the Jerry Angelo treatment if Rodgers goes down.

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

PHOENIX – If the Bears intend to cut ties with Deiondre' Hall after the first-year cornerback become involved in an ugly police incident last weekend, they have not indicated their decision yet. They have, however, begun looking at a possible position change for Hall as they gather information on events of last Saturday night.

Hall was tasered by police in Cedar Falls, Ia., after he and a former Northern Iowa University teammate were allegedly involved in a fight at a bar. Hall was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Hall allegedly spit in the officers' faces, according to an affidavit, police saying that an officer used a Taser on Hall's legs in order to get him into a squad car.

GM Ryan Pace confirmed that the team is still gathering information and said, "it's just [that] the circumstances are a little disappointing, to be honest with you. We're aware of it, it's just kind of gathering more facts as we go forward."

Pace has spoken to Hall and said that the team wanted to investigate thoroughly, "but the circumstances surrounding it are obviously disappointing."

In the meantime, the 2016 fourth-round draft choice is slated to be tried at safety when the team convenes for the start of offseason work. Hall played the position in college, and has traits that the Bears value at the safety position.

"One of Deiondre's best traits is his ball skills, his ball clock, the ability to time the pass breakup," Pace said. "He's very natural at playing safety and that's one of the reasons we drafted him, because he has the versatility to do both. That's something we're going to talk about this offseason and he could start taking some reps there in the offseason program."

Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who missed all of last season following arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-August, will stay at cornerback.

Is Addison Russell still on track for Opening Night?

Is Addison Russell still on track for Opening Night?

MESA, Ariz. – Addison Russell believes he will be ready for Opening Night. Right now, Cubs manager Joe Maddon says his All-Star shortstop starting the season on the disabled list is an option that "I'm not considering."

But Russell hasn't played in a Cactus League game since March 22 and the Cubs have only three exhibitions left before facing the St. Louis Cardinals on national TV. The new 10-day disabled list would also allow the Cubs to backdate Russell's injury (stiff back) to March 30 and create a degree of roster flexibility. 

"We're trying to start the season out on a good note and definitely in St. Louis," Russell said Tuesday. "That's kind of the goal, but if the back doesn't feel well until then, maybe that's something that we'll have to do. With the way that I'm feeling, I don't think that's necessary."

The Cubs did get Ben Zobrist (stiff neck) back into the lineup that afternoon against the San Francisco Giants at Sloan Park. Russell estimated he's around "95 percent" and hoped to play Wednesday before the Cubs leave Arizona and fly out for two exhibition games against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.      

"We're not trying to take it too quick," Russell said. "Missing a few games here in the spring is a lot better than a few games in the season. I've talked to Joe and there's no hurry back."

Five days out from what should be an electric atmosphere at Busch Stadium, Maddon said athletic trainer PJ Mainville didn't sound concerned about Russell's back issue.

"PJ felt very strongly that he's going to be fine over the next couple days," Maddon said. "From Addison's perspective, knowing baseball players who've been doing so well, you take a couple days off, you're concerned that you're going to lose it. 

"I'm certain he's going to be fine. Actually, I'm OK with him getting some rest right now. The biggest thing is: Medically, is he going to be fine? Everybody thinks that he is, so I'm not concerned."