Moon: Tice, three assistant coaches extended

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Moon: Tice, three assistant coaches extended

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
Posted 10:16 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears denied offensive line coach Mike Tice the chance to interview for the job of offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans but they have assured him at least an extra year in his post with the Bears, extending his contract through the 2012 season.

The extension, announced on the teams website, is part of a wave of new deals that has included extra years for defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, who had interviewed previously for the Philadelphia Eagles job as defensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Bob Babich and running backs coach Tim Spencer also signed extensions recently, ensuring the return of nearly the entire Lovie Smith staff with the exceptions of assistants on the defensive line (Eric Washington) and special teams (Chris Tabor).

Im looking forward to continuing the progress we made on our offensive line in 2010, Tice told the team website. Our guys are motivated and I am excited to get back to work with them.

Feeling the draft

A call with ESPN draft guru Todd McShay on Wednesday yielded a number of interesting perspectives, including several that offer some encouragement to the Bears down at No. 29 in the first round. In that spot its difficult to target a player or even a position but needs in the previous 28 picks are in their favor.

McShay sees quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert from Missouri and Auburns Cam Newton as the top two that position. Because nine of the first 12 teams have degrees of need at quarterback, those two will go in the top 10.

More important, McShay has as many as nine defensive ends going in round one, as well as three cornerbacks. With Israel Idonije, Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton, the Bears are not looking to address their defensive edges.

Three cornerbacks could go in round one; the Bears are in the market for size and youth at that key spot but have not gone for a corner that high in Jerry Angelos tenure.

Add Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley (the Bears want DT help but Fairley will go long before their pick), Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green (Angelo dislikes risking first-round picks on wideouts), and you have as many as 17 players with first-round grades that teams ahead of the Bears are likely to grab.

What the Bears wont like are players such as Colorado tackle Nate Solder (McShay has him at No. 13, likely going to Detroit as Jeff Backus successor) going before they can select an offensive lineman.

But the draft is more than two months away. Stay tuned.

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.

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

So Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie season, despite just a dozen carries in the first three games. The fifth-round pick joined the man who beat him out for the rushing title, Ezekiel Elliott, as one of just five rookies in history to average five or more yards per carry on over 250 carries. And he set the Bears' rookie rushing record with his 1,313 yards while becoming just the fourth in franchise history to rush for that many yards in a season.

Sounds pretty hard to top, like we might be set up for the dreaded sophomore slump.

But...

"Things are a lot different this year because I know what to expect," Howard said during the team's minicamp two weeks ago. "I know all the plays and things like that. I’m not out there thinking, so I can just play free and fast.

"I definitely feel like a veteran 'cause I know what to expect and can help the young guys on the plays that they're not understanding. I’m just more comfortable and want to be a leader."

One of the other things we learned about Howard last year is he's low-key, a man of few words. So the Indiana product by way of UAB will make his points verbally when needed, but his actions will speak louder.

"He was a rookie a year ago and didn't even go in trying to be a leader, telling a five-year guy what was up," said head coach John Fox. "I think with time, and obviously with production like he had, I think it's a role he can fall in to. We're in a performance-based business and even in that locker room, what they do on Sundays gives them some credibility."

One of the concerns about Howard coming out of college was durability, but he answered the bell once he became the starter in week four against Detroit. And he probably wasn't used nearly as much as he should have. The good news about that is he was subject to less wear and tear, averaging just 18 carries per game from that Lions game on.

But besides taking more of a leadership role, Howard wanted to work on his speed without sacrificing the strong base that, paired with keen vision and work by the offensive line, allowed him to hit holes quickly and charge toward the second level of opposing defenses.

"Just improving on the little things – my conditioning, my weight, catching passes. And looking for ways to finish runs better," says Howard. "I feel like I’m in much better shape than I was at this time last year, a little more toned-up."

"It's just training," said Fox. "When you get to that it's more like track speed than football speed and I think he proved pretty worthy of that a year ago as a rookie. Y'know we all can improve on things, and that's the expectation. He's trained hard.

"This time of year last year he wasn’t even practicing," Fox remembered. "I like where we are, we’ve brought in more competition, and he’s better for it. He’s kind of gotten used to an NFL season, he’s come back ready to roll, but he still has work to do before we get to training camp."  

Oh, and the 22-year-old has a couple of other goals he didn't mind sharing, besides being a leader and getting a little faster.

"First off, make the playoffs. Be the leading rusher, and just help the team in any way I can and stay consistent."

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.