Mullin: Panthers should look at Bears' QB history

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Mullin: Panthers should look at Bears' QB history

Monday, April 11, 2011
Posted: 9:41 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Platteville buddy Peter King of Sports Illustrated recounts an interesting chat with Carolina Panthers GM Marty Hurney in his Monday Morning Quarterback, appropriately titled because the talk around Cam Newton is picking up. The Panthers have the No. 1 overall pick and itll be primarily Hurneys call on which player, or players, first-time head coach Ron Rivera is given.

Missouris Blaine Gabbert has been the consensus pick if Carolina goes quarterback but the Panthers have gotten tapes of Newton playing at Blinn Junior College, which raises eyebrows as well as draft stock. A variable in Carolina is the presence of Jimmy Clausen, a Hurney second-round pick last year, and the fact that the Panthers are still looking at a quarterback might not bode well for Clausen long-term.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is one who thinks Carolina would be making a major mistake giving up on Clausen, who struggled horrendously against the Bears (12.0 passer rating, pulled) last season. Can Clausen still be successful?

No question about it, Kiper declared. Jimmy Clausen written out as a reject? I dont see it.

Mel has questions, as do most evaluators, about Newton but a lot of them are the kind raised about every highly rated quarterback. And you wonder if those Blinn tapes are going to create an even loftier image of Newton that hell have to maintain.

Things came easy for Cam Newton, Mel said. I hope he doesnt think its going to come easy in the NFL. When he hits that adversitywhen he starts being called a bust, how does he deal with that? Thats something to concern yourself with... Anytime your transitioning from one level to the next, its tough.

The Dallas Cowboys once went after Steve Walsh with a No. 1 pick in a supplemental draft after already taking Troy Aikman No. 1 overall in the regular draft. The San Francisco 49ers traded a couple draft picks for Steve Young even with Joe Montana in place and still at an MVP level. Howd those work out?

You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many potential franchise quarterbacks in your pipeline. Just ask the Bears what happens if you dont.

Get it right the first time

Whether the Bears address their offensive line on the first or second day of the draft, or both, the football absolute at work is the need to get the pick right. Very, very right.

This is beyond the obvious need to acquire talent now. It involves not having to go after the same position again and again if theres a miss near the top of the draft. Because the cost of a failed pick ripples into subsequent drafts, as the Bears have found too often.

A reason the Bears are still in need of a dominant offensive lineman is in part because Chris Williams hasnt been, which is the expectation of a 14th-overall pick. A reason the Bears needed to bring in guards Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza via free agency was the lack of impact from third-rounders Mike Gandy and Terrence Metcalf in 2001-2002.

Replacing players because of age or free-agency departures is part of the deal. But needing to address the same position year after year is a hidden disaster. When Jim Coverts career was cut short because of a back injury, the Bears went through Stan Thomas (1991, No. 1), Troy Auzenne (1992, No. 2) and Marcus Spears (1994, No. 2) trying to find a tackle and ultimately had to buy Andy Heck to stop the draft hemorrhaging.

The Bears need a hit up front, particularly with elite-level guards costing upwards of 6 million a season.

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 Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

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: