Bears sensing something 'special' about this team

932493.png

Bears sensing something 'special' about this team

NASHVILLE Julius Peppers is never given to overstatement or hyperbole. He has been on a Super Bowl team, knows both winning and losing, and rarely assigns excessive significance to a win, or a loss.

For that reason it was noteworthy when the perennial Pro Bowl defensive end allowed himself a look at more than either the game ahead or the one just completed.

We have something special happening here, Peppers said quietly.

A little later, defensive end Israel Idonije was slowly getting dressed. The same overriding thought:

This is special, Idonije said. Its special.

Special extended beyond Charles Tillmans four forced fumbles; Brian Urlachers 46-yard touchdown return of an interception; Sherrick McManis block of a punt and Corey Woottons return of that for a touchdown; Jay Cutlers three touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall; and beyond Matt Forte and the three running backs combining for more than 200 yards from scrimmage.

The Bears 51-20 demolishing of the Tennessee Titans (3-6) was their sixth straight win and moved them to 7-1, two games in the loss column ahead of Green Bay Packers (6-3).

It began with a forced fumble and takeaway by Tillman on the first play of the game and had reached 28-2 at the end of a first quarter in which offense, defense and special teams all scored touchdowns.

Notably perhaps, in the aftermath of a dizzying game in which the Bears scored in every quarter, the casual talk was already about next Sunday nights game with the Houston Texans, also at 7-1. The Bears hadnt looked past the Titans; they simply compartmentalize better and better, meaning the Titans were then, the Texans are now.

Im thinking about Houston, said left guard Chilo Rachal, part of the offensive line that helped Forte rush for103 yards on 12 carries. I think everyone is already thinking about Houston. And yet we did not overlook this Tennessee team whatsoever. Thats something different about this team.

Sunday marked the third time in eight games that the Bears have scored 40 or more points. They did not reach 40 all last year after doing it exactly once per season in the three previous years.

We are right where we need to be, Peppers said. Were doing a great job of focusing in on each opponent and thats what were going to do this week.

Tennessee was a great game, but you know what? Weve got to put this to the side. Weve got Houston coming in so we cant sit around and talk about how good we are.

That is where special starts.

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Oakland Athletics tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jharel Cotton (4-7, 5.40 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

The Bulls entered rebuild mode on Thursday night after they dealt Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They acquired a pair of guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick which they used to select Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen.

But the Bulls opted not to continue adding youth to their roster when they sold their second-round pick, No. 38 overall, to the Golden State Warriors. That pick was Oregon power forward Jordan Bell, who many considered a late first-round prospect.

The move was perplexing for a team that hours earlier had traded away its franchise player to start a youth movement. But VP John Paxson said after the draft that the decision to move the pick was based on team depth, hinting at a significant move the Bulls will make in free agency.

"We had some wings on our board that we had targeted that were the only way we were going to keep that (No. 38) pick, and they went before us. And drafting Lauri (Markkanen), and the fact that we have, Niko’s a restricted free agent we intend to bring back, Bobby Portis, we didn’t want to add another big and that’s really all that was left on our board."

Both Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have said since the season ended that Mirotic, who will become a restricted free agent on July 1, is part of their future plans. The Bulls will be able to match any contract that another team offers Mirotic, and they intend to keep the 26-year-old in Chicago. After Butler's departure, Mirotic is now the longest tenured member of the Bulls. He's been with the team for three seasons.

The wings Paxson may have been referring to include Miami's Devon Reed (32nd overall to Phoenix), Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu (33rd overall to Orlando) or SMU's Semi Ojeleye (Boston, 37th overall). Point guards Juwan Evans (Oklahoma State) and Sterling Brown (SMU) were still on the board and potential options, but the Bulls were set on looking for wing help after receiving point guard Kris Dunn and shooting guard Zach LaVine in the Butler trade.

The Bulls frontcourt depth looks filled, as Cristiano Felicio is expected to return behind Brook Lopez. Mirotic, Portis, Markkanen and Joffrey Lauvergne should make up the power forward depth chart. Opting against using the 38th pick, which Golden State bought for a whopping $3.5 million, also leaves the Bulls with room to add a 13th player in the fall.

"It keeps us at 12 roster spots and gives us real flexibility for our roster," Paxson said. "So we didn’t just want to use up a roster spot on a player that we probably wouldn’t have kept."