T.O. to the Bears? Not as crazy as you would think

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T.O. to the Bears? Not as crazy as you would think

Dont roll your eyes just yet when thinking about if the Bears should kick the tires on signing wide receiver Terrell Owens. My co-host Adam Schein and I caught up with Owens and former NFL linebacker Derrick Brooks on SiriusXM NFL Radio last week while the pair promoted the opening of the new NFL Shop in New York City.

As for a return to the NFL, Owens said: Definitely, that is the plan. Im keeping myself in shape. Im sure everyone knows Im playing in the Indoor Football League with the Allen Wranglers. Were 5-1 right now and Im having fun. Im using it as a way to keep myself in shape to play a few more years.

Owens last played for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010 finishing the season on injured reserve for the first time in his 15-year NFL career. Owens finished 17 yards shy of another 1,000-yard season, but still led the Bengals in receptions (72), yards (983), and touchdowns (9). Owens subsequently tore the ACL in his knee during the 2011 offseason. Despite a short recovery, Owens did not play football in 2011 even after a well publicized workout in October to try and convince NFL teams he was healthy.

When I asked Owens how his knee and overall health was right now, he said it's not an issue.

As far as health, Im fine. Im just looking for an opportunity." Owens said. "The Indoor League is quickerits faster than the outdoor game. It has enhanced my route running ability. If anything, Ive benefited from, and noticed how quick coming in and out of my breaks Ive become.

Former NFL linebacker and now current president and general manager of the AFLs Tampa Bay Storm, Brooks has scouted Owens and likes what hes seen.

I see humility and I see hunger. A lot of guys would not step back and play indoor football to prove to teams that they can still play," Brooks explained. "The hunger is still there. You can see it when he plays.

Brooks went even further saying, if anyone has any questions about the strength of the knee, from what Ive seen, if I were a team, I would give him a call.

Do the Bears or any other NFL team have to worry about Owens personality and does it suggest why he is not signed yet despite another "diva" WR like Randy Moss already being signed by San Francisco after spending 2011 in retirement?

I cannot say why Im not on a team other than that I can tell you about what I will give your team every Sunday. I have always earned my place on a team. I dont mind coming in playing for the minimum and working my way up, Owens said.

Owens did want to set the record straight concerning how he is perceived: A lot of people have said Ive thrown QBs under the bus, this and that and rightfully so. I have had some moments where I have said some things at the wrong time. Those were years where I was younger, now Ive matured more. Im in a different head space so to speak.

Owens compares himself to Moss but said, we both have had issues, but I think they are vastly different.

Owens specifically points to his heated televised sideline exchange with 49ers offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp. He still fights thoughts of how his blow up is any different than Tom Bradys televised argument this past season with New Englands former offensive coordinator Bill OBrien.

My passion gets misconstrued. When I hear commentators criticize me, but when Tom Brady does it, it shows leadership and a team needs a guy like that. It was basically the same exact situation. How was that any different? Ive tried to leave what Ive done in the past, but people wont leave it there," Owens said.

Regardless of the baggage, Owens has produced and the Bears could utilize his skills with no risk involved. Currently, Brandon Marshall is penciled in at the (weak-side) X-position, Earl Bennett is in the slot, and the (strong-side) Z-position is up for grabs. Devin Hester and recently signed Devin Thomas will compete along with a draft pick who can provide strong play in the future.

But as for 2012, Owens is a no brainer. The Bears should sign him for the league minimum and hell win the job. Owens has done this everywhere hes landed. If the Bears dont like what they see from Owens, he becomes a casualty camp release. Similar to what the 49ers have done with Moss.

The NFL is a riskreward league and signing the low-risk Owens, who would be coached by a veteran like Lovie Smith with a veteran locker room could have huge benefits. Ill let you decide, but Owens productivity shows hes led all receivers on every team hes played.

Will Likely a two-way starter on Terps' Week 1 depth chart

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Will Likely a two-way starter on Terps' Week 1 depth chart

We heard Will Likely would be utilized on the offensive side of the ball this season, but we weren't sure in what fashion.

Well, first-year head coach DJ Durkin apparently has big plans for the All-Big Ten defensive back, who was listed as a starter on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball when the Terps put out their Week 1 depth chart Monday.

In addition to being the No. 1 starter at nickel back, Likely is also listed as a co-starter at one of the wide receiver positions.

And while Maryland's depth chart didn't list starting return men, you'd have to figure Likely will be the featured player there, as well.

That's quite the workload for the guy who returned to College Park for his senior season.

Of course, there's little doubt that Likely is Maryland's best player. Durkin is going to make sure he gets the most out of Likely this season.

The Terps open their season Saturday against Howard.

Adam Eaton shakes off bruised forearm, returns to White Sox lineup

Adam Eaton shakes off bruised forearm, returns to White Sox lineup

DETROIT -- He’d already made out the lineup card for Monday, but Robin Ventura wanted to check in on Adam Eaton.

It’s not often Eaton voluntarily leaves a game as he did Sunday.

So even though the preliminary report was that Eaton was cleared, the White Sox manager held a 60-second conversation with his outfielder before the opener of a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. As he suspected, Eaton, who left in the fifth inning of Sunday’s win with a bruised right forearm, reported he felt fine.

“I was waiting around to see what he felt like, but yesterday he couldn’t grip anything,” Ventura said. “Today it’s good enough for him to play. He’s been able to battle through some stuff, and he can play with pain, so I’m going to let him do it.

“You know it takes a lot for him to come out of a game, and it takes a lot for him to show up the next day and not be in it. There’s very few times he has come in and said he couldn’t go. It would have to be pretty bad for him to not be in there.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Eaton -- who is hitting .276/.359/.412 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs -- joked he normally plays at about 75 percent for most games. He suggested that number dropped by one percent after Taijuan Walker hit him with a pitch and caused swelling in the fourth inning. Eaton stayed in the game until the bottom of the fifth and later had X-rays of his forearm taken, which proved negative. He said he didn’t have much strength in the area on Sunday, but it wasn’t an issue on Monday.

“Nothing broke, nothing major just a lot of swelling,” Eaton said. “I don’t like to leave games at all. It’s no offense to anybody else. But if I’m in the game I want to stay in the game. I don’t want to be Wally Pipp’d. It has always been my mindset and still is. I couldn’t really raise the bat up all that efficiently and we had a healthy Shuck. Let him go up there and compete. I hate coming out of the game, but sometimes you have to. I respect (Ventura) for getting me back in there right away and I guess, trusting in me that I’m all right and good enough to play.”

One reason Eaton pressed to play -- he’s not ready to give in. The leadoff man knows the odds are heavily against the possibility of a White Sox postseason berth. But isn’t ready to concede just yet.

“We’re not out of it until they say we’re out of it,” Eaton said. “There’s been teams down seven or 10 games and the last month of September have won 20 something games and forced a one-game playoff and gotten to the playoffs and been hot at the right time and made a good push. We’re not counting ourselves out and we want to continue to play good baseball.”

After 'year off,' Mike Denbrock ready to develop Notre Dame's next crop of WRs

After 'year off,' Mike Denbrock ready to develop Notre Dame's next crop of WRs

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame faced a similar question in 2014 it faces now: Who’s going to catch the ball?

Two years ago, Notre Dame entered the season having lost 70 percent of its receptions, 74 percent of its receiving yards and 78 percent of its receiving touchdowns from the 2013 season. The answer to the question turned out to be a guy who only had six catches as a freshman the previous year — Will Fuller.

Notre Dame might or might not have another breakout candidate like Fuller on its roster this year. But there’s a constant between 2014 and 2016: wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock.

The Irish are without Fuller (62 catches, 1,258 yards, 14 touchdowns), who became a first-round pick of the Houston Texans after turning pro earlier this year, along with Chris Brown (48 catches, 597 yards, four touchdowns), Amir Carlisle (32 catches, 355 yards, one touchdown) and Corey Robinson (16 catches, 200 yards, one touchdown) at the receiver position.

Add in the losses of running back C.J. Prosise (26 catches, 308 yards, one touchdown) and tight ends Alize Jones (13 catches, 190 yards) and Chase Hounshell (one catch, six yards), and Notre Dame has to replace 82 percent of its 2015 receptions, 87 percent of its receiving yards and 84 percent of its receiving touchdowns this fall.

“It’s like starting over,” Denbrock said. “Last year was kind of a little bit of a year off for me, quite frankly. I mean, I had guys that had heard me say the same things for three years and had kind of got used to being out there in the fray and doing it. Now it kind of regenerates itself and we start all over again, which for me is kind of exciting.

“I love the challenge, I love the dynamic of the group. I love their attention to trying to do things the right way, we’re just a little bit inexperienced and we’re learning how to do things the right way.”

Denbrock is in his fifth year coaching Notre Dame’s wide receivers (he spent 2010 and 2011 as the Irish tight ends coach and helped develop Tyler Eifert there, too) and has overseen that regeneration of a receiving corps after the losses of three go-to options in Michael Floyd, T.J. Jones and Fuller. And while an offense requires all its units — quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen — working together to succeed, it’s worth noting Notre Dame’s passing S&P+ rankings since Denbrock took over the Irish receivers:

2012: fifth

2013: 15th

2014: 13th

2015: eighth

Even if you might view some of those rankings as a bit bullish — like 2012’s, which seems high for a year in which Notre Dame deployed a conservative run-first offense — they’re solid evidence of Denbrock’s success in developing reliable pass-catchers.

“He's someone that doesn’t take anything less than what you can give,” redshirt junior receiver and captain Torii Hunter Jr. said. “He expects you to give 100 percent all the time. He just wants you to max out your potential, whatever it may be. And I’m grateful for the type of coach that he is because he never lets us get away with half-done.”

Of course, it helps that Notre Dame has recruited exceedingly well at the receiver position over the last few years. Jones, DaVaris Daniels, Corey Robinson, Fuller, Hunter, Corey Holmes, Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, C.J. Sanders, Chase Claypool and Javon McKinley were all Rivals four-star recruits, while three-star recruit Chris Brown developed into a rock-solid player and fellow three-star prospect Kevin Stepherson impressed during spring and preseason camp (he's expected to play against Texas despite his arrest earlier this month).

While coach Brian Kelly said he’s “concerned” and that all those inexperienced receivers — St. Brown, Sanders, Boykin, Holmes, Claypool, McKinley, Stepherson and ex-walk-on Chris Finke — are “suspects,” he has an immense amount of trust in Denbrock. The two have coached together for 16 non-consecutive seasons, with Denbrock serving as both an offensive and defensive coordinator, a tight ends coach, a wide receivers coach and an associate head coach. Denbrock, too, has coached offensive line and linebackers at various stops in his 30-year coaching career.

“He knows the offense and the system and he knows what I look for and what I'm trying to do, and so it's a great relationship because I don't have to micromanage him,” Kelly said. “All I have to do is kind of say, this is the direction I would like to go, and he's off and running.

“So any time you have that, and a longstanding relationship with somebody that knows exactly where you want to go, it allows to you do so many other things and it allows me to help coach some of the players at a level, a grass roots level that sometimes the head coach doesn't get a chance to do.”

There’s been some inconsistency with players during practice in August, but that’s to be expected with such a green group.

“He’s on us hard,” St. Brown said. “He knows he has to be harder than ever because we have a young group of receivers.”

But why should 2016, even with all the uncertainty surrounding that position, be any different? There’s that saying that you should never bet against a streak. And Denbrock is on a pretty good streak.

“I just think you gotta be very consistent and very demanding with what you ask them to do and not let their youthfulness be an excuse for not playing at the level they should play at,” Denbrock said. “They get it, they understand it, and they’re growing.”