Miller on the Bears' schedule

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Miller on the Bears' schedule

The day the NFL releases its regular-season schedule could easily be the greatest day other than the Draft, season opener, the start of playoffs and of course the Super Bowl. Anyway, there is no way NFL fans can plan for a Super Bowl and fall weekends until the schedule has been released.

Bears fans, your prayers have been answered as it looks pretty favorable for the Chicago Bears.

Week 1: Sept. 9 vs. Colts -- The Bears' defense gets ready to exploit rookie first-round QB Andrew Luck

Week 2: Sept. 13 at Packers -- Division games are always good early to get your mind right for season; none better than facing rival Packers on Thursday night in primetime.

Week 3: Sept. 23 vs. Rams -- Facing a Rams team at home that does not yet have an identity or enough playmakers.

Week 4 Oct. 1 at Cowboys -- If Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan does not fix the defense, Brian Urlacher and the boys can keep key Dallas offensive playmakers in check on another Monday nighter.

Week 5: Oct. 7 at Jaguars -- It's always good to face one-dimensional teams. Maurice Jones-Drew must be stopped while Jags quarterback Blaine Gabbert is trying to get comfortable in a new offense under Mike Mularkey.

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Oct. 22 vs. Lions -- The Bears should be well rested for a divisional Monday nighter that could be huge in the standings. The Bears must win this home game.

Week 8: Oct. 28 vs. Panthers -- There cannot be a letdown here. Carolina pushed around the Bears last year in Soldier Field. The Panthers are a dangerous team entering 2012 and are getting better.

Week 9: Nov. 4 at Titans -- The Titans are another dangerous team. They were nearly a playoff team last year, finishing 9-7. One plus is the Bears may be facing second-year QB Jake Locker at this point.
Week 10: Nov. 11 vs. Texans -- Buckle up for this one. This will be the Bears' fourth primetime game. Houston is a complete team. They finally busted through the AFC South to the playoffs. The Texans defense is legit.

Week 11: Nov. 19 at 49ers -- Another Monday nighter completes five primetime games for the Bears, which is the most any team can have in a season. It should be another dandy against the NFC Division runner-up.

Week 12: Nov. 25 vs. Vikings -- The Bears cannot coast in this one, but this is a nice breather from the previous five weeks.

Week 13: Dec. 2 vs. Seahawks -- The Seahawks are still one-dimensional. Stop Marshawn Lynch.
Week 14: Dec. 9 at Vikings -- The Vikings will not be much improved from facing them two weeks prior.
Week 15: Dec. 16 vs. Packers -- The Bears have to split with the Packers. This is their chance at home.

Week 16: Dec. 23 at Cardinals -- Look at all of these NFC games to finish the season. These matter for playoff seeding. The Cards won seven of their last nine games last season, finishing strong.
Week 17: Dec. 30 at Lions -- What better way to end the season than with a division game? The Lions believe last year was not a fluke. The Bears may have an opportunity to knock the Lions out.

Early thoughts just looking at the schedule: The Bears could go 12-4 again with a new sheriff in town like general manager Phil Emery and a couple of breaks. The pressure is on with the new GM, but Weeks 7-11 provide a brutal five-week stretch along with Weeks 15-17.

Preview: White Sox, Royals tangle Friday night on CSN

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Preview: White Sox, Royals tangle Friday night on CSN

The White Sox take on the Royals on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. from Kansas City. 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: Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 4.57 ERA) vs. Danny Duffy (0-0, 2.13 ERA)

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

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

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

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

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Preview: Cubs, Phillies start series Friday on CSN

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Preview: Cubs, Phillies start series Friday on CSN

The Cubs take on the Phillies on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (4-3, 2.60 ERA) vs. Adam Morgan (1-2, 5.61 ERA)

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

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

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

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

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Bears' move away from Forte part of change in run-game philosophy

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Bears' move away from Forte part of change in run-game philosophy

The Bears’ decision to move on from Matt Forte, the No. 2 running back in franchise history behind only Walter Payton in yardage, was not necessarily an easy one. It was, however, unanimous at Halas Hall, sources told CSNChicago.com. And it was also part of a significant deeper change in the main operating principle underpinning the Bears’ rushing offense.

Depending upon what Forte does with the New York Jets — and for how long — the decision might be open to question. Few NFL decisions aren’t.

But the Bears’ offense under John Fox and new coordinator Dowell Loggains was clearly going away from what Forte was accustomed to — a true featured back with a relief-back in the form of a Chester Taylor/Marion Barber/Michael Bush — and moving onto a true use of two backs in the fashion that Fox’s Denver Broncos offenses used them.

The change will be more than just a few carries. Forte lost carries last season to Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey. This is different.

Instead of Forte and an understudy, as the de facto rushing offense has been since Forte was drafted in 2008, the Bears this offseason made the decision to emphasize the run even more under Loggains, and that has meant something other than simply more carries for Forte’s understudy.

For perspective purposes: Last season Forte missed three full games due to a knee injury but still totaled 276 touches (carries plus targets) to 236 combined for Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey. When Forte returned from the three-game injury break, the offense had changed. Forte had four 20-carry games in the first six. He had one over the final six.

Forte did not appear publicly to genuinely embrace the job-sharing approach as Langford’s carries matched and in cases exceeded his own. Whether he would have been on board with ceding even more meaningful time to a co-back is another matter that would have been open to question, though any suspicions that direction are now moot.

(If Forte would have had problems with younger backs rising, he would not have been the first; Thomas Jones ultimately demanded a trade after the Lovie Smith Bears drafted Cedric Benson to broaden the run game.)

Regardless, the true multi-back system will be a change for the Bears, harking back perhaps to the Bears building their run game on two starter-grade backs in Benson and Jones. The Bears’ unsuccessful attempt to bring in C.J. Anderson from Denver suggests less a no-confidence vote in either Carey or Langford than a measure of the commitment to both competition and a depth chart with meaning past the top one or even two names. The Bears have used mid-round picks on running backs in three straight drafts (Carey, Langford, Jordan Howard this year), making the same point the Anderson interest did.

And that’s how Langford took the Howard selection to a position that where confidence in him was one of the reasons the organization was OK with parting with Forte.

“I really didn’t think too much of (the Howard pick),” Langford said. “I know it’s just competition. That’s what brings a lot of running backs, a lot of positions, to push themselves even more. Competition is always a good thing, and playing in the NFL, there’s always going to be competition, so you can’t really become too complacent as a player.”

“Complacent” wasn’t a word anyone was likely to apply to Langford, and certainly to Carey, who played his way up from a roster bubble at the end of training camp last year. And Howard as a fifth-round rookie isn’t guaranteed anything for awhile in training camp except reps with the 2s or 3s, with Jacquizz Rodgers also re-signed after an injury shortened 2015.

Loggains has been dealt a hand without an ace like Forte but with what he and the organization think can be three or four kings, depending on roster decisions at the end of August.

“We like where Jeremy’s at,” Loggains said. “He needs to continue to develop. There’s things he can do a better job of in the passing game, but we still like our other backs. Ka’Deem Carey finished strong for us last year. We obviously drafted a back. We’re excited about getting Jacquizz Rodgers back as well.”