Meriweather progressing, will play vs. Atlanta

534864.jpg

Meriweather progressing, will play vs. Atlanta

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011Posted: 9:42 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin Brandon Meriweather is expected to be inserted in spots at free safety Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons despite only being signed over the weekend.

Meriweather is receiving a crash course in the Bears scheme based on a go-now program and from Day 1, we were trying to get him game ready as soon as we possibly could, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said Thursday. We have thrown a lot at him, but hes picked it up quickly. But when youre a pro, youve been around, you have some different terminology, but most of the coverages are similar. He knew a little bit about how we play ball, so well see. Hes right on pace.

Meriweather played his way to two Pro Bowls as a member of the New England Patriots and coaches have not been shy about throwing him into the defense and into plans to go against one of the NFLs elite offenses.

Hes a real smart guy, said coach Lovie Smith. I think he understands everything were doing. But now its just doing it; the repetition of doing it, the run fits and all those things Were trying to get him up to speed as fast as we can.

Meriweather may not be the only very new guy making an impact on just a few days practice. Fullback Tyler Clutts, signed off the Cleveland Browns practice squad, played on all four Browns special teams and is expected to be on more than one as a new Bear.

Sick bay

Running back Marion Barber was out of practice again Thursday, all but guaranteeing he will be sidelined for the Atlanta game because of a calf injury suffered in the Tennessee game. Nose tackle Anthony Adams (calf), receiver Sam Hurd (ankle) and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) practiced on a limited basis. Adams is expected to be ready Sunday but Wootton is a longer shot, coming back from knee surgery.

Bears skeptic

As you can probably deduce from previous postings, Im curious why there is such widespread low-balling of the Bears, not just locally but also nationally. This isnt a fan speaking; I have no personal rooting interest here, and my 10-6 or better prediction for the second straight year is simply my guess on what actually will happen, not what I somehow wish would happen (except that, as my wife knows, I seriously love being right).

But Jason LaCanfora over at NFL Network calls himself a Bears skeptic rather than a Bears hater and explains why. Not a lot of surprises, including the observation that the Bears are getting older at a number of spots on defense.

A curious thing, though, is why investing a No. 1 draft choice in a tackle (Gabe Carimi) isnt considered doing much to fortify the offensive line, which also has left tackle JMarcus Webb going into a second NFL season and Chris Williams doing the same at left guard. Unless they mysteriously backslide, those are upgrades-in-place.

If Frank Omiyale was a starter last season and is not good enough to this year, that means your offensive line is better (no slight of Omiyale here). If Chris Spencer, a starter in Seattle, is not good enough to start, the Bears line is better.

Jason does raise a good question regarding Meriweather, whom the Bears signed to a one-year contract worth more than 3.2 million. It would seem that they couldve traded a draft choice for him (New England was shopping Meriweather) and paid less, although Meriweather had reached some contract escalators, so the Bears wouldve been paying quite a bit more than the 1.6 million in Meriweathers rookie deal.

Plus, two other factors: The Bears do not treat late-round picks lightly. They have two seventh-rounders starting on their offensive line (Webb, Lance Louis) and a sixth-rounder (Chris Harris) starting at safety.

And thats what the market said they needed to pay for a two-time Pro Bowl safety.

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 Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

wheaton.jpg

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

On this week’s Bears Talk Podcast, we hear from Markus Wheaton as Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz discuss the training camp competition at slot receiver.

Boden and Stankevitz also weigh in on PFF ranking the Bears’ starting lineup 18th in the NFL, answer listener questions and add another layer of Aaron Rodgers envy.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast right here:

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

The Bears believe Leonard Floyd will make the leap from being a promising rookie to a breakout second-year player, the kind who can be a centerpiece of a defense as soon as this fall.  

The Bears in 2016 totaled 37 sacks —12th in the NFL — despite dealing with a rash of injuries and not having a standout player in terms of getting to the quarterback. Willie Young led the team with 7 1/2 sacks, which tied him for 31st in the league last year, while Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had seven. 

Sixteen players recorded double-digit sacks last year. That’s not the end-all benchmark for Floyd in 2017, but for a former top-10 pick with elite skills and, as his coaches and teammate said, the right mentality, it’s not out of the question. 

“With most players, you go from your freshman year to sophomore or rookie to second year, … it slows down, they understand it, they're not thinking, they're reacting,” coach John Fox said. “And so I'd expect that and I've seen that already even in the off-season.”

Floyd, earlier this month, talked about how much more comfortable he feels after a full year of practicing and playing at the NFL level. 

“Everything was just fast when I got here last year,” Floyd said. “This year’s it’s way slower and I feel like I’m doing pretty good this year.”

There are two issues with Floyd that won’t go away until he proves they’re not problems in the regular season, though: His weight and his concussions. 

The weight issue is one Floyd has heard for a while, joking with reporters during veteran minicamp that he was surprised it wasn’t the first thing he was asked during his session with the media. He said he “definitely gained some weight” without revealing how much he’s put on, only saying he feels like he’s in much better shape now than he was as a rookie.

“It’s like night and day compared to last year,” Floyd said. 

The concessions are a far more serious — and scary — issue given it took Floyd two months to fully recover from the second concussion he suffered in 2016. 

The Bears believe Floyd’s concussion issues are correctable, though, given they were the product of poor tackling form made worse by collisions with Hicks. The crown of Floyd’s helmet was too low, so he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with tackling dummies and sled machines in an effort to fix that issue. 

The hope is that Floyd can stay healthy and marry his skills with a better knowledge of the game to put together a breakout year in 2017. His teammates sounded confident during the offseason program that everything was falling into place for the former ninth overall pick. 

“He’s a great competitor,” Hicks said. “Great energy, fast, athletic, he’s everything you want in an outside linebacker, right? Nonstop motor — I can give you all the cliche terms, but I just feel like as far as the defensive line or an outside linebacker, another year under his belt is only going to make him better.”

Added linebacker Jerrell Freeman: “That guy is going to be good for a while.”