Free agency has OT options for Bears when the time comes

977809.png

Free agency has OT options for Bears when the time comes

A number of decisions are on GM Phil Emerys desk as far as Bears free agents to be pursued and re-signed this offseason. Several are franchise-level choices with six 12 starters unrestricted: guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer, linebackers Nick Roach and Brian Urlacher, tackle Jonathan Scott and defensive tackle Henry Melton.

But what happens with certain other teams free agents on or before the Mar. 12 start of free agency projects to be potentially every bit as significant for the Bears as what they do with some of their own.

Many of the decisions obviously will be made with a new coach in place, both on Bears free agents and other teams.

The priority area is expected to be the offensive line. The draft is one option, where ESPN draft guru said are likely to be three left tackles and two RTs going in the first round.

Of more immediate impact, however, given that rookie tackles drafted around No. 20 where the Bears currently stand, arent always first-year difference makers, is what the unrestricted free agent market may hold.

And if the new coach someone like Houstons Rick Dennison or Denvers Mike McCoy is a zone-blocking proponent, not every lineman is an automatic fit.

Stat analysts at ProFootballFocus.com have an extensive list of the pending free-agent tackles that includes their in-depth rating, and there project to be some elites available for the Bears. The top five out of contracts:

Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos - Handles Peyton Mannings blind side in an offensive run by McCoy.

Gosder Cherilus, Detroit Lions - A right tackle but played well enough that No. 1 pick Riley Reiff couldnt beat him out. And it takes something away from a division rival.

Will Beatty, N.Y. Giants - Fourth-rated LT who came back strong after missing time with a detached retina in 2011.

Brandon Albert, Kansas City Chiefs - Emery didnt draft him in Kansas City but familiarity counts if the talent and personality are fits.

Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots - Another RT but a linchpin of the line that protects Tom Brady and is responsible for the rushers coming in Bradys face.

Emery expressed satisfaction with what the Bears got from Scott at right tackle. The evaluations of Scott, JMarcus Webb and Gabe Carimi will determine the push for whom or how many but at least the market in 13 already projects as better than either of the past two offseasons.

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Remember back in 2014 when the Bears rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 28-20 in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football?

Well, Brandon Marshall doesn't.

And he had three of the four touchdown catches, two of them coming in the last quarter.

[SHOP: Get your Bears gear right here]

The former Bears wide receiver, who had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, said he took pain pills before the game and doesn't recall much of it, including the incredible one-handed grab that went viral.

"I don't really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle (sprain)," Marshall said during a conference call Wednesday. "I'll say it, I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn't supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle (sprain) within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don't remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. And that was pretty much it."

If only Bears fans could forget that season entirely, which ended in a 5-11 record and the end of the Marc Trestman era.

Bears win over 49ers nets DE Akiem Hicks NFL defensive honor

Bears win over 49ers nets DE Akiem Hicks NFL defensive honor

It may have been just a distant similarity to players on an MLB cellar-dweller earning a Cy Young or MVP award (which happens in Chicago, a lot – Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks twice), but to the Bears it matters. Defensive end Akiem Hicks was named NFC defensive player of the week after his dominating performance in the Bears win last Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, and he is not alone among Bears getting recognition after one of their few victories.

Never mind that the victory moved the Bears to 3-9 and came over a team losing its 11th straight game. What Hicks accomplished – two sacks, 10 tackles, a quarterback hit, a forced fumble – was being a force in the Bears’ domination of the 49ers and has been part of the emotional core of a team that has lost but not folded.

“It’s easy to say, ‘We’re not getting the results we want,’ but guys have invested,” Hicks said. “I’ve told guys, ‘just think about the hours you’ve invested, to get your body and mind ready for a 16-game season. Why would you put all that work in and then, when you don’t get the results you want, just quit?’"

[SHOP: Get your Bears gear right here]

Jordan Howard is one of the nominees for the FedEx Air & Ground NFL player of the week. Howard, who posted his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the year, could be a double-winner: He also is among the nominees for Pepsi NFL rookie of the week, as is teammate Leonard Floyd (two sacks, safety, four tackles).

Voting on the latter two awards is still open.

Hicks’ play vs. San Francisco boosted him to a career-best six sacks, and he credited Bears coaches afterwards with giving him opportunities to rush the passer, not simply be utilized as a run-stopper. He has been everything and perhaps a little more than the Bears anticipated when they signed him this offseason to a two-year contract worth $10 million, with $5 million guaranteed.

“I think he's done well,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “It's a credit to him, a credit to Jay [Rodgers, defensive line coach]. Akiem has kept improving throughout the season, and he's been one of the guys that have been there each and every week, playing a lot of plays for us, and he's been a steady bell cow for us in there.”