In draft, 'expect the unexpected'

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In draft, 'expect the unexpected'

Gossip, buzz and other things percolating in the hours before the end of mock drafts and the start of the real one
DT or DE for Bears?

the Bears are expected to select a defensive lineman with their first pick, whether at No. 19 or thereabouts. But an end or a tackle? And which one?

One NFL personnel vet told CSNChicago.com that he thinks the Bears opt for Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, with this reasoning:

First, the Bears do at least have three starter-grade D-tackles (Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, Matt Toeaina) but only two proven D-ends (Israel Idonije, Julius Peppers). If theres a need, its on the outside. Besides, Idonije can contribute as a nickel rushman inside.

Second, Idonije, Peppers and Corey Wootton all are 6-6 or taller. Jones is the only one of the top handful of ends even as tall as 6-4. Jones didnt have the production of Melvin Ingram (6-1), Whitney Mercilus (6-3) or some others but the Bears like long bodies in quarterbacks fields of vision.

Chances are very, very good that the Bears opt for a little more explosion and pure speed in Mercilus if they have a choice.

Well see

Perspective, please

CSNChicago.com has stressed the need for perspective amid the breathless acclaim some have accorded GM Phil Emery for the Bears being so active in free agency, because the real measure of Emery is the draft and effecting a turnaround in that difficult area. Indeed, the Bears have been about the same degree of active this year as last.

The Bears this offseason have signed nine free agents from other teams.

On offense: running back Michael Bush, quarterback Jason Campbell, receivers Devin Thomas and Eric Weems and guard Chilo Rachal. On defense, cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite and linebackers Blake Costanzo.

In the drastically truncated offseason after the lockout last year, the Bears signed nine free agents from other teams.

On offense: running back Marion Barber, guard Chris Spencer, receivers Roy Williams and Sam Hurd, and tight end Matt Spaeth. On defense: tackle Amobi Okoye and end Vernon Gholston, plus punter Adam Podlesh.

The trade for receiver Brandon Marshall makes the 2012 addition total 10 and represents the only sure position-player starter. Spencer (at center), Podlesh and Williams were presumed starters after their 2011 signings.

Repeating: It's all about the draft.

The draft "starts" at No. 3 overall

...the No.3 pick continues to roil as Minnesota Vikings do the eeny-meeny-miny-mo dance with USC tackle Matt Kalil and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. The surprise will be if Kalil indeed goes No. 3. The Vikes need a left tackle but cornerback is arguably a higher need.

More importantly, teams are drooling for Claiborne and Alabama running back Trent Richardson, considered the next two best players in this draft after the quarterbacks. Who trades up to No. 3 for Claiborne or Richardson, to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the former or the Cleveland Browns to the latter? The Vikings are taking bids that will add picks and let them take Kalil a few picks later if they dont stay right where they are and take Claiborne.

Expect an unexpected

something will happen ahead of the Bears. It always does somewhere in the first round, whether a trade that scrambles the order of selection because a team wanted someone or because a supposed popular choice went unselected (Brady Quinn-like) and left options there for a team in the No. 19 range.

GM Phil Emery isnt concerned as much about a team turning the day upside down so much as a player possibly creating an opportunity or a need to move out of 19.

Not necessarily a team, Emery said. Its the players on the board. Whos still available? When it comes time to our pick, whos still available? Thats why we have seven players in the mix, so that we have a solution to whatever scenario happens in front of us or around us.

For instance:

Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox could go top 10. He could slide into the teens. Same with massive D-tackles Dontari Poe from Memphis or LSU giant Michael Brockers. Same with enigmatic North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples.

Alabama safety Mark Barron has gone higher with each days mock drafts. The Dallas Cowboys hoped hed be there at No. 14. Not likely now.

Stanford guard David DeCastro has been projected as high as No. 7 and as late as 25. Same with Notre Dame wideout Michael Floyd.

Do the math: Someone will drop and it could give the Bears a nice problem decision at No. 19, or later via trade-down.

David Accam is back and that's good for the Fire

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David Accam is back and that's good for the Fire

David Accam is the Chicago Fire's best player and when he plays the team is better.

While that statement should be obvious to anyone who has watched the Fire on a regular basis this year, it is worth mentioning because of how much time Accam has missed this season.

Accam played a starring role in the team's 4-3 loss in the season opener. He had a goal and an assist. The next match he scored early in Orlando before the Fire were forced to defend while playing down a man due to a red card.

Then he got injured. Accam missed six games and the Fire scored four goals in those matches without him. After making two abbreviated appearances during the team's recent road trip, he was unable to play last week at home due to a suspension.

“It’s difficult for me because I’ve been through a lot in the last two months," Accam said. "For me I’m just happy to be on the pitch now and playing. It will take some time for me to get into match fitness and start going, but I’m happy with my performance today.”

Accam scored in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Portland. It was his first start at home since his barnstorming season debut back on March 6. It was also his first 90-minute outing since March 11.

Kennedy Igboananike assisted on the goal. The partnership in the attack between Igboananike and Accam is one the Fire needs to become a fine-tuned weapon for the team to have a successful season.

“I think what we are looking for is to have associations in the team and the two of them work very good together," coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We could see that in the first game when David was fit, also in the second game until we had the (red card). Since then David was injured, but David is very important. Not only because of his individual qualities, but he improves our team in how our team feels better on the field and offensively with more potential."

Accam had five shots, two on goal, and Igboananike had four shots, three on goal. Accam thinks the team is starting to improve its on-field chemistry.

“I think so, especially in the front three," the Ghanaian said. "We are creating chances. Last week we created a lot of chances and today, too.

“In the last two games we started to feel the way we wanted to play and for me it’s been much better. We conceded one goal in the last three games and we created I think more than five clear chances so for me it’s getting better.”

Fire unable to find winner in tie with Portland

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Fire unable to find winner in tie with Portland

Getting a second goal is becoming a thing for the Chicago Fire.

A thing they aren't getting.

The Fire pushed for a go-ahead second goal against Portland on Saturday, but it never came. The team's inability to find a second goal, something the team hasn't scored since the season opener, meant they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against the Timbers.

In a lot of ways, the Fire played better. They outshot Portland 17-8, 6-2 in shots on target, and in the second half had rare extended stretches of possession. But they were still not able to break a halftime deadlock.

"It was just that we didn’t score that second goal, which was very important for us," coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We are building the momentum. We were close to winning this game today and we are happy with the performance.”

The Fire (2-5-5, 11 points) are now 2-2-3 in seven home matches.

Portland (4-6-4, 16 points) took the lead in the 18th minute when Diego Valeri took advantage of a poor Rodrigo Ramos clearance. Ramos' ball got caught up in the wind and stayed near the box. Valeri won the ball back and beat Sean Johnson from a tight angle, sliding a shot just inside the far post.

Almost immediately the Fire leveled the match through David Accam. Accam, making his first home start since the season opener, redirected a Kennedy Igboananike centering pass to tie things back up.

“I know when he goes wide I need to be in the box," Accam said. "I know he has a good left foot also to put that ball in the box so I was in the right position when the ball came in.”

It was Accam's third goal of the season and his first since March 11. Accam and Igboananike created most of the dangerous chances for the Fire, linking up regularly other than the goal.

Another forward who could have joined the attack, Gilberto, was out for personal reasons. The Brazilian had played his best of the year last week.

The Fire had a strong wind at their backs in the second half and used it to keep the ball in Portland's half and extend the lead in shots they took into halftime. Despite being unable to get the win at home, multiple players claimed they are seeing progress in the team's performances.

"I think we’re finally putting full 90s together as a team," midfielder Matt Polster said. "I think during the beginning of the season we were getting used to each other. I think we put in good 65, 70 minutes of a game. As we’re growing as a team now I think we’re putting a full 90 together.”

Now the Fire go on break for the Copa America. The team will not train next week other than a fitness plan given to the players. The next match will be in the US Open Cup on June 15 with both location and opponent to be determined on June 1.

The next MLS match is June 18 at Philadelphia and the next MLS home match will be July 1 against San Jose.

Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

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Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale vs. Edison Volquez

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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