Bears-Texans sidelights: draft picks and deals

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Bears-Texans sidelights: draft picks and deals

McClellin or Mercilus (or Jones)? Bears made the call
 
When their turn at No. 19 in the 2012 draft came, the anticipated run on edge pass rushers had started. It was the Bears priority in round one.
 
After the defensive tackles were taken (Dontari Poe 11th to Kansas City, Fletcher Cox 12th to Philadelphia, Michael Brockers 14th to St. Louis), the Seattle Seahawks grabbed Bruce Irvin 15th. The Jets took Quinton Coples 16th and San Diego chose Melvin Ingram 18th.
 
Whether the Bears would have taken any of those is conjecture, and GM Phil Emery elected to stand at 19 rather than trade up. The Bears selected Shea McClellin and New England opted for Chandler Jones at 21.
 
When Houstons turn came at 26 they followed their pick of J.J. Watt at No. 11 last year with Illinois Whitney Mercilus.
 
Who had the best pass-rush draft?
 
McClellin, behind Israel Idonije on the Bears defensive-end depth charts, has 2.5 sacks (three according to ProFootballFocus.com), two tackles for loss and nine quarterback pressures.
 
Mercilus, behind Connor Barwin on the Houston outside-linebacker depth chart, has two sacks, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit.
 
The longer it goes, expectations for him grows and grows, said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. We want to see more. Just the little things sometimes, the habits, guys have a tendency to revert back to something. He works, thats the big thing, and hes got speed. So thatll just keep coming for him. Just keep working.
 
(Jones, from Syracuse, is starting for the Patriots with six sacks, eight quarterback hits and 20 hurries.)
 
Trade winds that worked
 
Just before the season opened, the Bears traded fullback Tyler Clutts to the Houston Texans in return for cornerback Sherrick McManis. Clutts was the lead blocker for Matt Forte last year but in the one-back system of Mike Tice, the Bears had less use for a fullback than a special-teams starter.
 
Both teams are pleased with the way the deal has worked out.
 
McManis blocked the Tennessee Titans punt that Corey Wootton lugged into the end zone for a touchdown last Sunday.
 
Clutts has played in all eight Houston games as a reserve fullback and on special teams.

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

[RELATED: Brett Lawrie trying to clear final hurdles]

Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon misses his chance to guest-star in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

Cubs manager Joe Maddon misses his chance to guest-star in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

MESA, Ariz. – This is a big bowl of wrong: Cubs manager Joe Maddon might have missed his only window to make the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" cameo appearance Jeff Garlin promised. 

Garlin – a Second City alumnus and one of several celebrity fans within the team's orbit – had offered Maddon a role whenever Larry David brought the band back together for the loosely scripted HBO comedy.

But last week's Cactus League media event at the Arizona Biltmore conflicted with filming in Southern California, where "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is working on a ninth season after a five-year hiatus.

"There was one matchup, and I couldn't get there," Maddon said before Sunday's World Series rematch against the Cleveland Indians at Sloan Park. "I just couldn't do it. It'll happen."

During an all-over-the-place session with reporters that lasted 20-plus minutes, Maddon declined to make any Oscar predictions, saying he's into Netflix and Hulu now and doesn't really go to the movies anymore.

Maddon also hasn't watched much – or any – of the World Series highlights or documentaries. When it came to the handling Aroldis Chapman part, there were some boos inside Chicago's Civic Opera House during the premiere of Major League Baseball's "The 2016 World Series."

But Maddon said he basically skipped that type of content after being Mike Scioscia's bench coach for the 2002 Anaheim Angels and managing the Tampa Bay Rays to the 2008 World Series.

"You get busy and I don't know," Maddon said. "I need to start reading more and watching Netflix less."

Didn't you say that last spring?

"I did," Maddon said.

Maddon had been addicted to cable news during last year's polarizing presidential campaign: "But, damn, it's gotten really annoying, so I stopped watching all that stuff. It's just not good for your brain. It's really not. There's nothing to be gained."

When Maddon starts rolling, it's not hard to picture him in a scene with David and J.B. Smoove. Shaquille O'Neal, John McEnroe and Bill Buckner are among the sports figures with "Curb Your Enthusiasm" credits.

"That was the only day, so I don't know how we're going to figure this out," Maddon said. "First, they had one day set up, and that was going to be good. And then they had to change it to this other day, which was not good. So we'll have to (come up with something else), even if it's maybe a picture on the wall or a phone call."