Chicago Bears

WR and OL should concern the Bears, not CBA

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WR and OL should concern the Bears, not CBA

Thursday, March 3, 2011Posted: 10:40 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The sound you hear is the tick-tick-tick of the NFL clock moving inexorably toward the deadline Thursday at which the agreement between the NFL and its players officially becomes un-agreed, although the exact implications of that remain to play out over the coming weeks and possibly even months.

The situation is unsettled as to whether there in fact will be a prolonged lockout just because the issue of NFLPA decertification was unresolved as to whether that will ultimately enjoin the owners from stopping players at the gate. Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal at ProFootballTalk.com are among those riding herd on all of this.

The intricacies of the issues and negotiations arent really the point of interest with respect to the Bears. The business of business will work out at some point; the pie is too big, the two sides are too smart, and the question is more of where they find the agreement, not if.

A lot of attention has been paid to teams with new head coaches (CarolinaRon Rivera, San Francisco Jim Harbaugh, OaklandHue Jackson, etc.) and how hard a prolonged lockout would be on those teams' programs with new systems. But the Bears are quite likely to have a wholesale shifting around on the offensive line, a significant weak spot much of 2010.

The Bears may be a vet team with a coach (Lovie Smith) set in place and mutually comfortable with his players. But if the Bears' OL spends another half-season in development, they could find themselves looking at Green Bay disappearing out ahead of them - and Jay Cutler could have taken another pounding like he did in 2010 that got him a concussion and knee injury.

A pressing issues for them are the OL and can they win without a significant upgrade to that group, especially if they do not bring Olin Kreutz back at center. Kreutz is a co-captain and the glue of a still-forming group. If they get a top guy in the draft, great, but immediate impact is tough from that area under any circumstances, and trying to bring that unit together without the benefit of an offseason is problematic.

Same for wide receiver. The Bears want to add one, a good one. A veteran one would be nice but if that certain someone (Plaxico Burress, Braylon Edwards, Roy Williams, you pick one) doesnt begin working with the Mike Martz system and Cutler until just before the season, the value added is potentially lessened.

The next time Martz says something publicly wasnt good about last seasons player performances may be the first. But when you finish 30th in yardage per game and 32nd in sacks per pass play, Im not sure there are a whole lot of praise-worthy positives in the bigger picture. The offense was part of an 11-5 season and NFC Championship appearance, but so was a defense No. 4 in points allowed.

The news out of the negotiations continues to be sparse. I still take that as a good thing, for various reasons. If tempers were flaring, someone would vent. No one has. If there were nothing whatsoever to hope for, someone would say so.

None of that has happened. Yet. That, however minor at this point, is a good thing for the 2011 Bears.

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.

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

Coach John Fox said Kyle Long expressed “remorse” and was “embarrassed” after being kicked out of Monday’s final training camp practice in Bourbonnais for sparking a pair of skirmishes with teammates.

Long hasn’t been available to the media since his pair of physical outbursts on Monday, and wasn’t at practice Wednesday. Fox said Long was at a doctor’s appointment to get his surgically-repaired ankle checked out, but is expected to be back at practice on Thursday.

Long’s father, NFL on Fox analyst Howie Long, addressed his son’s practice ejection on the Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday.

“He’s gotta get it under control,” Long said. “It’s one of those things where you’re coming back from injury and you’re switching positions, maybe you’re not where you want to be right now.”

Fox said “everything’s fine” with Long after talking with him, and understood where he could be frustrated by slowly being eased back into full team activities during practice (and possibly not playing in any preseason games).

“I think any time a player's injured, they get something that they love taken away from them,” Fox said. “It's been a minute, there's some pain and suffering that goes along with it and I'm sure those are things. But we have a lot of resources here, Kyle knows he's loved here, by his teammates and by everyone in the building. He'll get through it and we talked about that and I think he feels confident in that.”

From the sick bay

Cornerback Prince Amukamara didn’t participate in practice Wednesday due to a strained hamstring and is day-to-day, Fox said. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton had surgery on his fractured pinkie, too, Fox said.

There was some good news for the Bears on Wednesday, though, with Jeremy Langford and Mark Sanchez both participating in practice. Langford isn’t quite back to full health after spraining his ankle during a walkthrough in July, but sounded confident he can get back to that level.

“I think my main thing is getting back to 100 percent and being the player that I am and can be, and the rest will take care of itself,” Langford said.

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky has to at least be aware of the hype he created with his standout preseason debut last week, right? 

“I don’t know what hype you’re taking about,” Trubisky said. “I don’t pay attention to it.”

This is coming from a guy who earlier during training camp said he’s “so good” at tuning out the outside noise, whether it’s coming from social media or traditional media. But even if Trubisky was playing coy and is aware of what’s being said and debated about him, he didn’t sound like someone willing to buy into that hype.

“I think it’s just a small step in the right direction,” Trubisky said of his first preseason game. “I still got a lot of work to do. I was pleased with how I played, but plenty more mistakes are going on during practice for me that I need to work on and continue to improve in my game and make sure when I go out there that I’m doing my job to help other people do their job.”

The mistakes Trubisky identified he made in the Denver game are about what you’d expect from a rookie quarterback making the transition from a college spread offense to the NFL (like taking the wrong drop). The Broncos second/third/fourth-string defenses didn’t throw much at him, either, so a lot of his work on identifying blitzes and setting protections is having to happen in practice. 

So there is plenty on which for Trubisky to work during practices and the Bears’ remaining three preseason games. Like coach John Fox — who said after Thursday’s game he wouldn’t blow up the depth chart for one preseason game — Trubisky wasn’t putting a whole lot of emphasis on what he did against Denver, as good as it may have been. 

“I think it just showed me that I’m making progress, that I could go out there and lead and do my job like I wanted to show,” Trubisky said. “But it was just a small sample. It was the first game, and you just gotta continue to be consistent in reproducing it. that’s why we’re out here working and practicing.”