Chicago Bears

Moon: Draft guide's attack on Newton unfair?

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Moon: Draft guide's attack on Newton unfair?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted: 1:42 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The draft is still a little more than four weeks distant but the ebb and flow around players and teams is never dull.

Cases in point:

The standing of Cam Newton continues to be of interest and will be right up until the Carolina Panthers are on the clock (although no projections Ive seen have Ron Riveras first draft choice as a new head coach being for Newton). Teams are visiting with Newton this week, but Im intrigued by where Pro Football Weekly draft insider Nolan Nawrocki has Newton.

For one thing, Nolan in PFWs 2011 draft guide slots Newton No. 5 among quarterbacks, behind Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ricky Stanzi and Colin Kaepernick. Only Gabbert is generally projected to go before Newton, and Nolan has those two as his only straight first-rounders. Locker is round 1-2 and the other two are 2-3.

But while Nolan has Newton going within the first 15 picks, he criticizes him for marginal field vision despite a very respectable 21 score on the Wonderlic test. And Newton has a track record of being undependable and a fake rah-rah leader. He concludes, In five years dont be surprised if hes looking for another job.

Nasty stuff. And in the draft guide Nolan cites, has a huge ego and personality traits that have doomed similar prospects in recent years.

Ouch. Sounds like suggestions that you can rearrange the letters in Cam Newton and come out with Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell.

Bears taking Carimi?

NFL.com senior draft analyst Pat Kirwan projects the Bears coming out of the first round with Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi at No. 29 and that they will consider themselves fortunate if things fall that way.

Im not so sure.

Carimi provided a chuckle at last months Scouting Combine by unabashedly declaring himself the best tackle in this draft class. BCs Anthony Castonzo and USCs Tyron Smith may beg to differ but Carimi was the Outland Trophy winner last season as the nations best O-lineman.

Carimi is not the issue, however, and the Bears certainly would be well served if they can bring in an offensive lineman capable of starting as a rookie and projecting considerably higher than JMarcus Webb did last season as a newbie.

But the Bears primary need on the line is less on the edges than inside. Webb projects as the starting left tackle, and right now Chris Williams is ticketed for right tackle, where he played creditably in the final third of 2009. Williams was a sub-standard guard last season; Roberto Garza just turned 32 last Saturday; and Garza and Olin Kreutz are veterans of double-digit seasons, if the Bears indeed can and do re-sign Kreutz.

The Bears have made trips to check out Baylor strongman Danny Watkins and Floridas Mike Pouncey. Both can play guard and Pouncey prefers center. Both of them fill a more immediate need than Carimi, with the real question possibly coming down to who is available at No., 29 after a run on offensive linemen.

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.

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Markus Wheaton was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and wasn’t on the Bears’ injury report Thursday, signaling that the 5-foot-11, 189 pound speedster will make his Bears debut Sunday against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not the solution for the Bears’ offense, but he could be part of it. 

For an offense that’s woefully lacked someone who can reliably stretch the field, Wheaton can at least provide the threat of going deep. Two years ago, while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wheaton averaged 17 yards per reception. Mike Glennon’s longest completion this year went for 22 yards. 

“It definitely adds another dimension,” Glennon said. “It’ll be great having Markus back.”

But Wheaton only played in three games last season (four catches, 51 yards) and, at his best, averaged 48 catches, 696 yards and four touchdowns a year from 2014-2015. Is it fair to expect Wheaton to be a big part of the Bears' offensive solution given he hasn't played much recently, and was limited to only a handful of reps in training camp and preseason practices due to a pair of freak ailments?

Maybe not, but with the Bears 0-2, he's the best hope they have at a skill position. 

Wheaton needed an emergency appendectomy the first weekend the Bears were in Bourbonnais — “I thought I had to poop,” Wheaton said, maybe providing too much information, before realizing the excruiating pain in which he was in was something worse. Shortly after returning to the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University, Wheaton fractured his pinkie finger in gruesome fashion (he said the bone was sticking out) when he was awkwardly grabbed while trying to catch a pass. 

That Wheaton broke a finger wasn’t only significant for his ability to catch passes. Consider what his former quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger — had to say about what makes Wheaton an effective deep threat:

“He’s got a very good ability of using his hands,” Roethlisberger said. “When you’re trying to stretch the field, you’ve gotta have some little techniques to help you get open because DBs can run as much as receivers can. So you gotta be able to use your hands to swim, kinda, get some swiping, get the hands off, I thought that he really had some good technique when it came to the deep ball and getting away from DBs.”

Roethlisberger and Wheaton shared a good rapport in Pittsburgh, with the quarterback clearly communicating to the receiver what he expected timing-wise in his routes. It’s been a challenge to develop something similar with Glennon given the lack of practice time, but Wheaton said putting in extra work after practice has helped. 

If Wheaton and Glennon can get on the same page, perhaps that can lead to at least some deep ball attempts. The Bears have to find a way to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box and focusing on stopping Jordan Howard, who only has 59 yards on 22 carries this year. 

“We're going to face overpopulated boxes, we know that,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “There's going to be seven, eight guys in the box every time and we have to execute better and it comes down to that.”

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, only three of Glennon’s 85 pass attempts have traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The only completion of those was Sunday’s garbage-time touchdown to Deonte Thompson, which was caught near the back of the end zone. 

The threat of Wheaton going deep won’t be enough, though. Glennon still has prove he can complete those deep balls — the last time he completed a pass of 25 or more yards was on Nov. 2, 2014 (though he’s only attempted 96 passes since that date). 

But Wheaton feels ready to go and is confident he can do his job — which, in turn, could, in a best-case scenario, help his other 10 teammates on offense do their jobs, too. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wheaton said. “I’m excited and hopefully this is the week.”

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

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AP

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

Count Kris Bryant among the Chicagoans who are calling for Mitch Trubisky to start at quarterback for the Bears.

OK, that may be a bit extreme as Bryant simply said he would supporting giving Trubisky a "shot", but still:

After a rough game for incumbent starting QB Mike Glennon last week, most of Chicago has been clamoring for the No. 2 overall pick to get some snaps under center.

Why wouldn't the crown prince of Chicago baseball get in on the noise?