View From the Moon: Draft trackin...

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View From the Moon: Draft trackin...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011Posted: 12:05 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Draft trackin

The actual draft will start to play out in a little more than a week but there is still anything but a consensus on what the Bears will do with their pick at No. 29, if in fact they exercise it rather than trading down (again).

Nolan Nawrocki at Pro Football Weekly predicts that teams will take a very need-based approach to the draft, which would be a bit of a departure for some organizations firmly in step with a best-player-available methodology based on belief in their draft board.

The Bears went for Florida safety Major Wright in last years draft in one of those nice meshes of best-available and need-position situations. They needed a safety and Wrights grade was a fit at their point of the third round. Chris Williams was projected to be the same at tackle in 2008; the Bears needed one and Williams was deemed worth the No. 14 slot.

Nolan projects the Bears taking defensive tackle Marvin Austin at No. 29. Austin was dropped from the North Carolina team last year for dealings with an agent and he has some maturity questions. I still have a difficult time seeing Jerry Angelo taking anything close to a character risk in the first round after his experiences with Tank Johnson and ultimately with Tommie Harris.

But Austin does fit a true need with the exit of Harris, and Angelo believes in keeping a strength strong, particularly when its the defensive line, a franchise focus with Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli.

Russ Lande over at SportingNews.com also believes the Bears will go for strength up front in the person of Oregon State strongman Stephen Paea. Russ, like Nolan, has the top five offensive linemen (tackles Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder, and guardcenter Mike Pouncey) gone by No. 26 (Baltimore), and if that scenario holds, defense may indeed trump offense, although Baylor guard Danny Watkins is hugely intriguing.

Clark Judge yields (tongue-in-cheek) to CamMania and joins the chorus seeing Auburn quarterback Cam Newton leading off the CBSSportsline.com draft by becoming a Carolina Panther. Clark takes a different tack for the Bears, however. With Watkins gone as well as the others mentioned above, Clark likes Texas cornerback Aaron Williams coming to Chicago in the race to match up against Aaron Rodgers and that passing crowd in Green Bay.

Texas gave the Bears Nathan Vasher, and Williams is a 6-foot cornerback in the tradition of Charles Tillman. Because of the value of the position and the need to get a Tillman replacement in the pipeline, this pick solidifies a spot that has bedeviled the defense since Vashers precipitous decline from his one-time Pro Bowl level.

Gaming

The NFL will announce the specific 2011 game dates and times on Tuesday. A couple of mysteries should be solved.

The opponents already are determined: Home games against Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego and Seattle. Road games at Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver, New Orleans, Oakland, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

The last of the road games right now is scheduled to be played in Londons Wembley Stadium on Oct. 23. But that is contingent upon NFL owners and players resolving their labor issues no later than Aug. 1. If that doesnt happen, the game will revert to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium. And the Bears appearance in the Hall of Fame game will be canceled as well.

Green Bay will open at home and the Bears rate as the early favorite to be the Packers opponent as defending Super Bowl champion. Given that this was the matchup from the NFC Championship game, it conjures up distant memories of the Bears and New York Giants opening the 1987 season on a Monday night the winners of Super Bowl XX vs. the winners of XXI. won by the Bears in what would be a season losing several games to labor troubles.

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-49ers: And the winner is?

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Both teams are on track to be drafting in the top five, and the inevitable “the loser is the winner” talk has made its rounds, meaning that a defeat moves the loser higher in the draft order. The reality is that neither team will tank the game for draft position.

But the chances of two woeful teams playing well are slim. The 49ers won in Week 1 and then have lost 10 straight. The Bears are trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time under John Fox.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick burst upon the NFL scene in 2012 with a blowout of the Bears in his first start. He has regained his starting job in San Francisco and is still one of the prototypical mobile quarterbacks.

But the 49ers are the NFL’s worst defense in both points and yardage allowed, and they are the worst rushing defense in the league. Expect the Bears to try exploiting that and give quarterback Matt Barkley a balanced run-pass game plan.

Prediction: Bears 24, 49ers 20

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.