Hillenmeyer: NFL lockout different than NHL's

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Hillenmeyer: NFL lockout different than NHL's

Monday, March 28, 2011
Posted: 2:30 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears released Hunter Hillenmeyer early this offseason but that doesnt mean that the veteran linebacker and players rep is without perspectives on the current situation involving his sport.

Hillenmeyer, writing on NBCChicago.com's Grizzly Detail blog, draws parallels (and differences) between the lockout of the NFL and the one imposed by the National Hockey League, beginning with the fact that both involved outside counsel union breaker Bob Batterman.

Hmmm.

Both lockouts followed moves to de-certify the player unions, and the NHL players was upheld. Hunter brings in his personal perspectives, formed while he was actively involved in the final days of talks and was witness to the proposals put forward by the players group.

A noteworthy difference between the NFL and NHL situations lies in the fact that hockey owners were hemorrhaging cash during negotiations, something clearly not the case in footballs situation. And Hillenmeyer reiterates that NFL players are willing to accept less than the percentage of revenues than hockey players wanted, and that NFL players will be content with staying with the same deal, under which all sides were making money.

Not to take a side, but its tough to argue with that fact. Not many labor groups have been willing to accept status quo in negotiations, and it may be difficult to see a judge in this case ignoring that fact when the Apr. 6 case comes up for adjudication.

Medically speaking

One of the ticking issues in the owner-player situation is former players and their health benefits. A representative of the NFL players is reporting that a Federal judge has issued an injunction requiring all teams and owners to stop seeking to reduce the worker comp benefits due former players for injuries suffered while playing the game.

And as for current players, colleague Tom Curran at CSNNE.com has established with the NFL that players may in fact see team doctors during the lockout, as long as it is not at team facilities. That follows Tom seeing a story in the Boston Globe in which a team physician alluded to one of the Patriots showing up at his office.

Even the players themselves were off on this one, as the website of the former union laid out as one of the lockout terms that players couldnt see medical staff. For the likes of Jay Cutler and his knee, this is good news, for both player and team.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”