Te'o's Heisman chances could hinge on performance at OU

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Te'o's Heisman chances could hinge on performance at OU

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A month ago, Manti Teo began receiving some Heisman support after he emotionally led Notre Dame to a 13-6 win over Michigan. But that support was generally qualified with well, hes a linebacker, and defensive players dont win the Heisman Trophy. With a slew of quarterbacks racking up eye-popping stats, it didnt look like Teo had a realistic chance.

But theres been plenty of attrition among the early-season Heisman hopefuls and all of sudden, Teos rocketed to the top of the discussion. In HeismanPunditCBS Sports latest straw poll, Teo is No. 2 but well behind Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. ESPNs Heisman Watch has Klein and Teo at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, with Klein holding a similarly commanding lead.

If Kansas State runs the table -- which, if the Wildcats get by Texas Tech this weekend, they just might do -- itll be tough for anyone to top Klein, whos putting up Tim Tebow-like numbers in Manhattan.

But Notre Dames defense hasnt faltered, pacing the Irish to seven wins in seven games. Despite giving up a touchdown for the first time in 17 quarters against BYU on Saturday, Notre Dames still only one of two teams in the country averaging fewer than 10 points allowed (the other, of course, is Alabama).

Those defensive numbers -- and, by extension, Teos Heisman hopes -- will be put to the test this weekend against an Oklahoma offense thats racked up 156 points in its last three games. With the game nationally-televised in prime time, Teo has a chance to make his case with voters from coast to coast.

Teos stats are obviously part of the Heisman equation, but even if he only gets, say, five tackles, if Notre Dame shuts down OUs offense Teos chances will be boosted given hes regarded as the emotional leader of the Irish defense.

The guy is all over the field, and continues -- and I mean all over the field, pass coverage, breaking on the ball, setting our defense up, coach Brian Kelly gushed after Notre Dames win over BYU. It's not going to change. It's only going to continue to be the same kind of performance weekin and weekout, because he's so well prepared. Just glad he's on our team.

Its not like Teo has much competition among fellow defenders who are Heisman candidates -- a defensive player has only been invited to New York three times in the last 15 years, and two of those guys (Charles Woodson and Tyrann Mathieu -- Ndamukong Suh is the other) had impact on special teams.

Needless to say, if Teo were to go to New York as a Heisman finalist, itd be a rare occurrence. But with Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest following Oklahoma, Teos candidacy could gain plenty of steam leading up to Notre Dames season-ending date with USC in Los Angeles. With that much momentum, chances are Teo would be a finalist for the award no matter what happens at USC.

But for that momentum to materialize, Teo and Notre Dames defense will have to stop Oklahoma first.

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

PHOENIX – If the Bears intend to cut ties with Deiondre' Hall after the first-year cornerback become involved in an ugly police incident last weekend, they have not indicated their decision yet. They have, however, begun looking at a possible position change for Hall as they gather information on events of last Saturday night.

Hall was tasered by police in Cedar Falls, Ia., after he and a former Northern Iowa University teammate were allegedly involved in a fight at a bar. Hall was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Hall allegedly spit in the officers' faces, according to an affidavit, police saying that an officer used a Taser on Hall's legs in order to get him into a squad car.

GM Ryan Pace confirmed that the team is still gathering information and said, "it's just [that] the circumstances are a little disappointing, to be honest with you. We're aware of it, it's just kind of gathering more facts as we go forward."

Pace has spoken to Hall and said that the team wanted to investigate thoroughly, "but the circumstances surrounding it are obviously disappointing."

In the meantime, the 2016 fourth-round draft choice is slated to be tried at safety when the team convenes for the start of offseason work. Hall played the position in college, and has traits that the Bears value at the safety position.

"One of Deiondre's best traits is his ball skills, his ball clock, the ability to time the pass breakup," Pace said. "He's very natural at playing safety and that's one of the reasons we drafted him, because he has the versatility to do both. That's something we're going to talk about this offseason and he could start taking some reps there in the offseason program."

Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who missed all of last season following arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-August, will stay at cornerback.

Is Addison Russell still on track for Opening Night?

Is Addison Russell still on track for Opening Night?

MESA, Ariz. – Addison Russell believes he will be ready for Opening Night. Right now, Cubs manager Joe Maddon says his All-Star shortstop starting the season on the disabled list is an option that "I'm not considering."

But Russell hasn't played in a Cactus League game since March 22 and the Cubs have only three exhibitions left before facing the St. Louis Cardinals on national TV. The new 10-day disabled list would also allow the Cubs to backdate Russell's injury (stiff back) to March 30 and create a degree of roster flexibility. 

"We're trying to start the season out on a good note and definitely in St. Louis," Russell said Tuesday. "That's kind of the goal, but if the back doesn't feel well until then, maybe that's something that we'll have to do. With the way that I'm feeling, I don't think that's necessary."

The Cubs did get Ben Zobrist (stiff neck) back into the lineup that afternoon against the San Francisco Giants at Sloan Park. Russell estimated he's around "95 percent" and hoped to play Wednesday before the Cubs leave Arizona and fly out for two exhibition games against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.      

"We're not trying to take it too quick," Russell said. "Missing a few games here in the spring is a lot better than a few games in the season. I've talked to Joe and there's no hurry back."

Five days out from what should be an electric atmosphere at Busch Stadium, Maddon said athletic trainer PJ Mainville didn't sound concerned about Russell's back issue.

"PJ felt very strongly that he's going to be fine over the next couple days," Maddon said. "From Addison's perspective, knowing baseball players who've been doing so well, you take a couple days off, you're concerned that you're going to lose it. 

"I'm certain he's going to be fine. Actually, I'm OK with him getting some rest right now. The biggest thing is: Medically, is he going to be fine? Everybody thinks that he is, so I'm not concerned."