ND Notes: Martin, Nix to return for 2013; Daniels nears green light

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ND Notes: Martin, Nix to return for 2013; Daniels nears green light

Updated: 6:00 p.m.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As Notre Dame prepares for the BCS Championship, the team scored two big wins for next season.

Coach Brian Kelly announced Monday offensive lineman Zack Martin and defensive tackle Louis Nix will return to Notre Dame for their graduate and senior seasons, respectively, answering two pressing questions for the 2013 season.

Martin, a senior captain, has started all 38 of Notre Dame's games since 2010 and was named the team's top offensive lineman in 2012. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound tackle settled on returning early last week, although the decision wasn't necessarily an easy one.

"I wanted to play with Nick, I ultimately want to play for (offensive line coach Harry Hiestand) another year," Martin explained.

Nick is Martin's younger brother, a sophomore who could slide in on the right side of Notre Dame's offensive line in 2013. Potentially getting to play alongside his brother was a key reason for Martin deciding to return for his fifth year.

"I think he's going to have an opportunity to play next year, and I think that a situation like that only comes once in a lifetime," Martin said.

The early projection for Martin's NFL Draft position was a second-round one, so he's certainly forgoing a good opportunity to stay in South Bend.

The same can be said for Nix, who made 45 tackles in his first year as a starter on Notre Dame's defensive line. He was a force up front and often cleared a path to the ball for Manti Te'o, among other Irish linebackers -- a point noted by ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper last week.

But Nix mentioned his desire to earn a degree, not surprising given he's said the academic challenge of Notre Dame was one of the reasons why he committed to the school in the first place.

Additionally, running back Cierre Wood will wait to receive his draft evaluation before making a decision on his future. Wood rushed for 740 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, a drop from his breakout 2011 (1,102 yards, nine touchdowns).

Sick bay

The only player to be updated here is DaVaris Daniels, who coach Brian Kelly said will begin taking contact next week after suffering a broken clavicle Nov. 10 at Boston College. The sophomore receiver looks on track to re-join Notre Dame's receiving corps for the BCS Championship.

That's more than welcome news, given Daniels and quarterback Everett Golson looked to be in sync in the weeks leading up to his injury.

"He looks really good," Kelly said. "He's going to be able to be a key contributor for us."

Bears reportedly won't franchise tag Alshon Jeffery, so what's next?

Bears reportedly won't franchise tag Alshon Jeffery, so what's next?

NFL.com's Insider Ian Rapoport dropped a news bomb in the middle of the night, Tweeting in the wee hours of Monday morning that the Bears will not sign receiver Alshon Jeffery to a franchise tag:

Jeffery played under the franchise tag in 2016, when he earned roughly $14.6 million. 

The Bears could still re-sign Jeffery to a longer deal in free agency, but the market on the 27-year-old receiver may climb out of their desired range.

The $17 million franchise tag was an awful lot of salary cap to spend on a guy who has missed 11 games over the last two seasons to injury and a PED suspension that stretched to four games in 2016.

When he was on the field last year, Jeffery turned in his worst stat line since his rookie season, catching only 52 balls for 821 yards and 2 TDs.

Still, his departure would leave a gaping hole in the Bears receiving corps as Cameron Meredith and Kevin White would emerge as the leaders of the group.

Meredith went undrafted out of Illinois State, but he has impressed in his two pro seasons, leading the Bears in receptions (66), targets (96), yards (888) and TDs (4) in 2016.

White was the Bears' first-round pick in 2015 (7th overall) but has played in just four games due to leg issues and has only 19 catches for 187 yards and 0 TDs under his belt.

David Kaplan believes if Jeffery does depart Chicago, it sends a bigger message about the state of the Bears:

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

What if… Cubs GM Jed Hoyer’s takeaways from epic World Series Game 7

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Michigan State gets big win to boost tourney hopes, while Wisconsin loses for fourth time in five games