Rookie Enderle believes he's ready to play Sunday

625792.png

Rookie Enderle believes he's ready to play Sunday

In his coaches opinions, Nathan Enderles future may not be quite at hand. But as to whether he is ready to step on an NFL field as soon as next Sunday in Minnesota, Enderle doesnt hesitate.

Yeah, I am, he said Thursday.

Quarterbacks are supposed to be confident. Enderle is. And there is one big reason why Enderle, who is working like a No. 2 quarterback this week, is considerably more ready and confident now than even as recently as two weeks ago.

Josh McCown.

Hes going to be a good one, that guy, McCown told CSNChicago.com, nodding toward Enderle.

Long after practice again Thursday, after coaches and teammates, including Caleb Hanie, had gone in and practice equipment was being broken down, McCown and Enderle were still doing passing drills inside the Walter Payton Center.

But Enderle, the only player to be on the Bears 53-man roster all season and play in no games, wasnt the quarterback. He was the tight end. And the wide receiver. All the wide receivers, in fact.

Studying and working off a sheet of paper on the turf, McCown went over different routes, adjustments and decisions, then positioned Enderle to run the routes while McCown went through the play fakes, sometimes from a simulated direct snap, sometimes working from the shotgun. If the pass or the connection was a little off, McCown placed Enderle precisely where the throw was supposed to be caught and threw the pass again.

McCown knows the drill and the real benefits for both players: He played some wide receiver under coordinator Mike Martz back when the two were in Detroit.

Even just running the routes gives me a better idea of depths and understanding why they do certain things and run the routes, and that makes me a better quarterback, Enderle said.

Quarterbacks know all the routes but its good for me to know how theyre run, their landmarks and when they adjust and when they dont. Plus, it helps me stay in shape.

Whither Hanie?

Coaches said to put no stock in the fact that Hanie is not putting in the extra drill time. But where McCown is playing for a job opportunity next year and Enderle is assured of coming back for 2012, Hanie will not be. Hanie did not play in Green Bay and is not expected to get on the field in Minnesota.

Enderle, however, is another matter. If he in fact is not as ready as he believes he is, it ultimately reflects on a lack of player development by coordinator Martz and quarterbacks coach Shane Day.

The Bears are starting McCown because he gives them the best chance to win while at the same time giving them more of a body of work to evaluate for next season.

At this point, Enderle is the obvious play for next season. And if his work ethic even late in week 17 of a lost season is any indication, he may be the best chance to win after McCown as well.

He thinks hes ready, in any case.

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.

Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9). 

Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:

One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.

Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss. 

Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:

If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.

"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."

Report: Bears set to hire Curtis Modkins as running backs coach

Report: Bears set to hire Curtis Modkins as running backs coach

Bears Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard will have a new positional coach in 2017.

According to ESPN's Adam Caplan, the Bears are expected to hire former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins as their running backs coach.

Before joining the 49ers in 2016, Modkins served as the Detroit Lions running backs coach from 2013-15. Modkins broke into the NFL as a running backs coach with Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. After serving one year in Kansas City, Modkins left for the same job with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009. The following season Modkins took a promotion with the Buffalo Bills, becoming the team's offensive coordinator from 2010-12.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

Modkins will be reunited in Chicago with reported new Bears offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn. The duo worked together for three seasons with the Lions from 2013-15.

The Bears were in need of a new running backs coach after Stan Drayton departed to take an associate head coaching job under Tom Herman at the University of Texas.