Chicago Bears: Kyle Adams
The club waived tight end Kyle Adams in a corresponding roster move, in addition to terminating the practice squad contract of guard Derek Dennis.
The team’s decision to bring back Scott wasn’t a surprise. As a vested veteran, Scott’s full $715,000 base salary would have been guaranteed had he been on the club’s Week 1 roster. Fully vested veterans had their contracts guaranteed for the season if they remained on rosters at 3 p.m. CST on Saturday.
The Bears terminated Scott’s contract last Tuesday before bringing him back Monday, a day after the team’s 24-21 season-opening victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Scott played in 12 games for the Bears last season with seven starts, but missed a significant portion of training camp and the preseason after undergoing a minor knee procedure. Scott returned to the practice field last week, and expected to be healthy enough to play against the Bengals. But the club released Scott prior to the game.
Scott has started in 35 games over his career. Adams, meanwhile, has played in 24 games with the Bears over three seasons, including Sunday’s game.
The club signed Johnson to the practice squad as a developmental quarterback on Sept. 1, only to terminate his contract on Sept. 4, when it added Dennis to the practice squad.
Adams has played in 23 games for the Bears with two starts over the past two seasons and has hauled in four receptions for 40 yards, in addition to contributing a tackle on special teams. The team released Adams earlier in the week when they acquired tight end Dante Rosario in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys.
As for Scott, a six-year veteran who has spent time with Detroit (2007-09), Buffalo (2009) and Pittsburgh (2010-11) before joining the Bears in 2012, he’s started in 35 of 70 games played. Scott played in 12 games for the Bears last season with seven starts.
Scott missed the majority of training camp and the preseason with knee issues, which led to him undergoing a minor procedure. Scott returned to practice earlier in the week and was cleared for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bears confirmed the moves, but didn’t divulge the compensation given to the Cowboys to acquire Rosario.
A six-year veteran, Rosario has played in 91 games with 26 starts for Carolina (2007-10), Miami (2011), Denver (2011) and San Diego (2012) after coming into the league as a fifth-round pick of the Panthers.
Rosari0 (6-3, 242 pounds) has tallied 99 career receptions for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns, in addition to contributing 23 tackles and three fumble recoveries as a special teamer.
Rosario provides versatility for the Bears on offense because of his pass-catching skills, and ability to contribute as either an H-back or a tight end. Over his last two seasons in Carolina (2009-10), Rosario caught 58 passes for 577 yards and two touchdowns.
Rosario played 13 games for the Chargers last season with two starts, and caught 10 passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns.
Rosario appears to be an upgrade over the younger Adams, who has played 23 games for the Bears over the past two seasons. Adams caught four passes for 40 yards during his tenure with the Bears, in addition to posting one tackle on special teams.
WR – Joe Anderson
LT – Cory Brandon
LG – Edwin Williams
C – Taylor Boggs
RG – Derek Dennis
RT – J’Marcus Webb
TE – Kyle Adams
HB - Fendi Onobun
WR – Terrence Toliver
QB – Jordan Palmer
RB – Armando Allen
Bears coach Marc Trestman said on Tuesday he anticipated Peppers and wide receiver Brandon Marshall making their preseason debuts against the Chargers, but the veteran pass-rusher was a late scratch due to coaches' decision.
Peppers, who has been battling a minor hamstring injury the past week and a half, was on the field watching the rest of his teammates going through pregame warmups.
However, Marshall and defensive end Corey Wootton are in uniform and scheduled to see action with the Bears starters for at least one quarter.
Also sitting out for the Bears: running back Armando Allen (hamstring), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), defensive tackle Henry Melton (concussion), wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion), long snapper Patrick Mannelly (ribs), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), fullback Harvey Unga (ribs) and tight end Kyle Adams.
San Diego rookie linebacker Manti Te'o has previously been ruled out due to a sprained foot.
Defensive end Corey Wootton (calf) and receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) will also be held out of the contest, along with middle linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), defensive end Jamaal Anderson (knee), tight end Jonathan Scott (knee), and tight end Kyle Adams (hamstring).
Marshall missed the majority of the team's offseason program recovering from arthroscopic hip surgery, and has been given time off from workouts during training camp. Marshall experienced some soreness early on in camp in the hip, but that hasn't affected his ability to participate in workouts.
It's likely the team kept Marshall out as a precautionary measure to avoid subjecting him to re-injury.
As for Peppers, the defensive end experienced some tightness in his hamstring during a night workout last week, and the team has been cautious about rushing him back onto the field.
Peppers' hamstring issue isn't believed to be serious.
It's uncertain whether the new coaching staff views the position as a need in free agency or the upcoming draft, but what's clear is the plan in 2013 to step into the modern age of tight end play.
"The days of the tight end being a down blocker and a flat runner are really gone," said new Bears tight ends coach Andy Bischoff. "If you have that guy, you better get somebody else eventually because those days are really gone."
That's not to say the tenure of any of the club's tight ends is coming to an end anytime soon, but Bischoff made it abundantly clear their roles will change significantly with the implementation of the new offensive scheme by head coach Marc Trestman. In each of the past two seasons Chicago's tight ends ranked at the bottom of the league in receptions.
Perhaps that's about to change.
It would be viewed by many as an upset if Kellen Davis sees the second year of the contract he signed with the Bears last offseason that calls for a base salary of $2.4 million in 2013. Davis just isn't the dependable threat in the passing game the Bears need at tight end. He had far too many drops last year as he struggled to stay upright whenever he had to turn his body to make a catch or run up field.
Further down the depth chart are accomplished blocker Matt Spaeth, developing pass-catcher Kyle Adams, and 2012 fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez, who spent his rookie year lining up roughly 10-12 snaps per game at the hybrid H-Back position. The Bears' reserves are more than capable to handle their respective roles, but the team has been lacking a front-line tight end since the previous regime decided to trade Greg Olsen to Carolina in the summer of 2011.
In a twist of bad luck, there are a handful of talented tight ends slated to be restricted free agents, led by Dennis Pitta, who had a breakout year for the Baltimore Ravens with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. Pitta also has two postseason touchdown receptions for the AFC champions.
Acquiring restricted free agents is much trickier because teams have a right to match any offer sheet the player signs, and depending on the tender amount, teams can be due compensation in the form of draft picks if they decide not to match the offer.
The Bears are in desperate need of an upgrade and will no doubt investigate and consider all the available options. If they decide to address the issue in free agency, here is a list of some of the projected unrestricted free agent tight ends.
Commissioner Roger Goodell would never call off a season after seven weeks, of course. (Think of all the lost ticket revenue!) We're not even at the season's midpoint, but already, I think, we're beginning to see some clarity in this division. The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings have each put themselves in position for the division title, while the Detroit Lions are on the brink of 2012 extinction.
That's right. After a 13-7 defeat of the Lions in a game that wasn't that close, the Bears have the second-best record (5-1) in the NFC. According to the updated standings, the Vikings (5-2) rank fifth and the Packers (4-3) sixth in the conference. The Lions, on the other hand, have more losses at 2-4 than 24 of the NFL's 32 teams.
I realize there is more football left to be played this season than has been played. But this is the time of year when patterns emerge and stories start getting written, and Monday night we saw the Bears emerge from their bye as sharp as they entered it. They forced four turnovers, three in the red zone, and were 30 seconds away from their first shutout in three years. And the Lions looked no different than the team that has won this season only when mounting a fourth-quarter comeback.
"This was two evenly matched teams," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said afterward. "When you're playing a good team like Chicago, one that's leading the NFC North, we're on the road, we're not going to win the way we played."
To be clear, the Lions had a chance to steal this game largely because the Bears' offense slowed considerably after quarterback Jay Cutler suffered bruised ribs late in the second quarter. But there was never a time when I thought the Lions were matching the Bears blow for blow, as evenly matched teams do.
Evidence? Bears cornerback Charles Tillman did the impossible, matching up all night with Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and limiting him to three catches on the 11 passes he was targeted on. The Bears surprised the Lions by blitzing more often than usual, on 28.8 percent of Matthew Stafford's dropbacks, according to ESPN's Stats and Information. And the Bears' two-deep safety look didn't give up a pass longer than 23 yards.
The Lions, in fact, absorbed most of the blows Monday. Bears defenders stripped the ball from running backs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell in the red zone. And in a sequence that defined the current situations for both teams, the Bears fought off the Lions at their most vulnerable moment.
It began when Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh sacked Cutler violently but legally -- and cleanly, according to all involved -- with 4 minutes, 52 seconds left in the second quarter.
Cutler missed five plays while getting the injury attended to. (Asked if he received a pain-killing injection at halftime, Cutler said: "We did some stuff back here in the back room.") When he returned to open the third quarter, it was clear Cutler couldn't step into and drive his throws. He was short to tight end Kyle Adams on second down and managed a pair of 2-yard passes to tailback Matt Forte before the Bears punted.
"It was on my right side," Cutler said. "I couldn't really follow through. Couldn't get through the ball. It had an impact on our play calling, but defense was playing so well, we thought we could ride it out a little."
Still, at that moment -- with Cutler debilitated and the Lions' defense seemingly energized -- you could sense the potential for a turning point. But the Lions' Stefan Logan muffed the ensuing punt, and three minutes later the Bears took a 13-0 lead that stood until the final seconds of the game.
Schwartz kept it positive afterward, saying: "We can battle back. We've battled back in games, we can do it in the season." But the Lions now have six very similar games on their resume -- slow starts, special teams miscues and last-second dashes -- that suggest they have some fundamental issues they might not be equipped to address immediately.
"If I had all the answers," Stafford said, "it would be nice."
If the Lions seem stuck in a rut, the Bears appear as well-rounded and disciplined as they've ever been under coach Lovie Smith. Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs are having All-Pro seasons, and Monday they had reason to rally around their quarterback for positive reasons.
You might not realize it, but the Bears are 10-1 in Cutler's past 11 starts dating back to last season. While there was never a (rational) reason to doubt his toughness, Monday night felt like the moment when he earned his stripes in Chicago.
"That's what you should have as your Chicago Bear quarterback," Smith said. "And he does it time after time."
Put it all together, and the Bears are in their best-case scenario after six games. The Vikings and Packers aren't far behind. The Lions are on the short end of things. But no division is perfect, right?
Kyle Adams had it better than a lot of the other "bubble guys" at Chicago Bears camp this year. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound tight end survived every roster cut in 2011, seeing the field in eight games last season before ending up on injured reserve after hurting his hamstring.
He knew what it would take to make the team; he'd done it before.
Read the entire story.
Chicago Bears: Cornerback Charles Tillman (shin) and linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) did not practice. Coach Lovie Smith said that Urlacher will start Thursday night. It appears that Tillman has a decent chance of playing as well. Tight end Kyle Adams (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice.
Green Bay Packers: Receiver Greg Jennings (groin) sat out practice and it's not clear if he'll be ready to play with the short turnaround. It sounds as if coach Mike McCarthy needs to see him practice in some way Wednesday before making a determination about his availability. "We're dealing with the groin," McCarthy told reporters. "How he responds to it will be an endurance issue." Running back James Starks (toe) and linebacker Terrell Manning (concussion) also sat out practice. Cornerback Davon House (shoulder) continues to practice with limited participation.
The Chicago Bears wrapped up their three-day minicamp Thursday at Halas Hall, and here are some quick observations from the final session:
• Charles Tillman demonstrated his takeaway skills for the second consecutive day against the same victim: tight end Kellen Davis. Tillman pulled a ball out of Davis' hands and sprinted towards the end zone just as a Jay Cutler's pass hit the tight end’s chest during team drills. More impressive is that as Cutler barked out the cadence, Tillman told the defense exactly where the ball would be going on the play.
• He might not make the Bears' roster or any other NFL roster for that matter, but we’re giving the Thomas Jones “Big Guns” award to tight end Draylen Ross. Ross originally signed with the Bears in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of North Texas, and faces long odds to make the team. Based the size of his arms, perhaps he’s got a future in body building if football doesn’t work out.
• Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery continued his inactivity in the final day of minicamp. Limited over the last two workouts with a lower-leg injury, Jeffery didn’t participate in any portions of the Thursday session at Halas Hall. Jeffery’s injury isn’t believed to be serious.
• Veteran tight end Matt Spaeth spent Thursday rehabilitating his sore hamstring during the workout with athletic trainer Bobby Slater.
• With Spaeth out, the Bears worked Kyle Adams and Davis with the starters in double tight end sets.
• Edwin Williams took reps with the second team at center.
• Rookie Greg McCoy took reps with the second team opposite veteran Kelvin Hayden. McCoy hasn’t necessarily moved up the depth chart. It’s likely the rookie received those repetitions because the team held out Wilhite.
• The Bears worked out two more tryout players on the final day of minicamp. The club brought in a pair of cornerbacks in Jeremy Ware, a former Michigan State standout drafted in the seventh round of 2010 by the Oakland Raiders, and Cornelius Brown, who signed with the Bears in 2010 as a rookie free agent.
Surely at some point in the in the playoffs the Chicago Bears front office watched the exploits of tight ends around the league, and wondered why under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz and the team basically eliminated the position, reducing it to nothing more than an extra offensive lineman.
Five of the tight ends featured in the postseason (New Orlean's Jimmy Graham, New England's Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Green Bay's Jermichael Finley and San Francisco's Vernon Davis) individually produced more in terms of receptions and yardage than every tight end on the Bears roster combined. In fact, of all the teams that advanced to the postseason, only one starting tight end -- Denver's Daniel Fells -- generated fewer catches (19) than Chicago tight ends Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth (25), but matched their yardage (256).
Ten tight ends on playoff teams eclipsed Forte's numbers, and four of them -- Detroit's Brandon Pettigrew, Atlanta's Tony Gonzales, Graham and Gronkowski -- finished 2011 with at least 80 catches. A Bears player hasn't accomplished that feat since 2002, when receiver Marty Booker finished with 97 receptions.
So despite the rosy outlook from the coaching staff regarding the team's tight ends, clearly the Bears need more from the position, especially in the red zone where the Bears scored 20 touchdowns in 38 drives inside an opponent's 20 in 2011.
"We have an excellent tight end," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of Davis, who is an unrestricted free agent. "We brought Matt Spaeth here to primarily be a blocker for us, and he filled that role well. Kellen Davis can do anything the good tight ends in this league can do. I think we had a combination of as good a tight end -- the makings of -- as anyone around in Kellen."
THE CURRENT ROSTER
Kellen Davis: Despite pedestrian statistics, Davis led the Bears with five touchdown receptions, finishing his fourth season with 18 catches for 206 yards. An unrestricted free agent, Davis might be offered a minimal deal to re-sign. But if the Bears -- under new GM Emery -- decide to upgrade at the position, they could decide to let Davis sign elsewhere. Davis has flashed ability as both a blocker and receiver over the past two seasons, but lacks consistency in both areas.
Matt Spaeth: Brought in as a blocking tight end, Spaeth played 15 games, catching seven passes for 50 yards. The Bears signed Spaeth to a three-year contract last year in free agency, and -- counting his bonuses -- he basically earned more than $285,000 per catch last season. With Spaeth to receive $1.775 million in base salary for 2012, the front office may decide that’s too much to pay for a one-dimensional tight end. In fact, the Bears could use that money to try to lure back Davis.
Kyle Adams: Contributed primarily as a special teamer for eight games as a rookie, before a torn hamstring landed Adams on the injured reserve. One of just five undrafted free agents to make last year’s team, Adams also showed promise as a developmental tight end that might thrive with an NFL offseason under his belt that might open up the door to a strong training camp.
Andre Smith: Spent the first eight games on the practice squad before the Bears promoted him to the 53-man roster after Adams was placed on injured reserve. Although he was on the active roster, the Bears placed Smith on their inactive list in each of the last eight games. Like Adams, Smith is another developmental prospect that displays promising upside.
Draylen Ross: Spent time briefly with the Bears during 2011 training camp, and was signed to the practice squad when Adams was placed on IR and Smith was promoted to the active roster. If Ross makes it to training camp, he’ll have a difficult time sticking.
Bears free agents: Davis
POTENTIAL FREE AGENT TARGETS
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, unrestricted
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins, unrestricted
Martellus Bennett, Dallas Cowboys, unrestricted
WHY BENNETT MIGHT MAKE SENSE
There's no way the Packers let Finley see the open market, and Davis' 2011 drug suspension might be too much of a red flag for the Bears under new GM Phil Emery. Bennett (6 foot 6, 270 pounds) makes for an interesting prospect for a variety of reasons. According to a Cowboys source, Bennett was the team's best blocker, is immensely athletic and possesses solid hands. But he's been plagued by immaturity. Like quarterback Jay Cutler, Bennett has often been criticized for his body language.
Bennett, who will be 25 in March, might be able to thrive in Chicago because of the Bears' established group of leaders, and the fact Halas Hall isn’t the circus atmosphere the tight end has become accustomed to in Dallas. With the Bears, Bennett would take a lead role, as opposed to being merely a backup to Jason Witten. Throw in a strong-minded coach in Smith, a top quarterback in Cutler, and an established group of leaders in the locker room, and Chicago might be the place where Bennett can finally flourish.
Believe it or not, Bennett’s skill set is very similar to those of Pettigrew and Finley.
There was once a time when the Bears' tight end position averaged roughly 87 catches and 883 receiving yards over a span of three years.
It was 2007-2009.
Olsen, Chicago's 2007 first-round draft choice, saw his receptions steadily rise under former offensive coordinator Ron Turner, going from 39 as a rookie to 54 in 2008 then a team-high 60 in 2009. Clark, the ninth all-team leading receiver in team history, suffered through an injured-plagued 2009 campaign, but was still considered an effective option for the Bears in the passing game -- the veteran averaged 43 catches and 513 yards the prior three seasons (2006-2008).
So with Olsen and Clark firmly in the mix, the Bears could finally consider tight end a strength of the offense moving forward.
Then Mike Martz was hired as the team's offensive coordinator on Feb. 1, 2010.
It was like the day the music died.
Here is a quick run-down of what happened at tight end the next two years:
Martz pushed for the Bears to sign Brandon Manumaleuna, who caught five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown in 2010. He was cut after failing his physical in July 2011.
Clark had his role reduced to the point that he dressed for a mere five regular-season games in 2010. He was brought back as a free agent the following year then suffered a minor injury and was released prior to the beginning of the regular season. The team instead opted to keep undrafted rookie free agent Kyle Adams, who eventually landed on injured reserve.
Olsen's production declined dramatically in 2010 – his receptions dipped from 60 the year prior to Martz's arrival to 41 in the new offense. Olsen was then traded to Carolina for a third-round pick prior to the 2011 season.
The Bears signed another blocking tight end in Matt Spaeth to replace Manumaleuna. Spaeth had seven catches in 2011.
The end result of Martz's vision: a combined 25 catches for 256 yards from Kellen Davis and Spaeth in 2011.
While Martz and the Bears succeeded in turning the tight end spot into a complete nonfactor on offense, others around the NFL took a much different approach to the position. Coincidently, or maybe not, several of those teams qualified for the divisional round of the postseason, where they continued to feature their tight ends and use them as vertical threats down the field.
It should be noted Martz, oddly enough a former tight end himself at Fresno State, worked with Davis in 2008 while offensive coordinator of the 49ers. Predictably, Davis languished in Martz’s system, catching a mere 31 balls for 358 yards a pair of touchdowns.
However, once San Francisco fired Martz, Davis exploded the following year and posted a career-best 78 receptions for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Coincidence? Hardly. Just another example of how Martz selfishly and stubbornly chooses his "system" instead of properly evaluating the talent on his roster and coaching to their strengths, not his own.
Now comes the question of how the Bears are going to salvage the neglected tight end position. Obviously, getting rid of Martz and elevating Mike Tice was the first step, but are the Bears in need of a serious personnel upgrade?
Maybe not, according to Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
"We have an excellent tight end," Smith said at his end of the year press conference. "We brought Matt Spaeth here to primarily be a blocker for us and he filled that role well. Kellen Davis can do anything the good tight ends in this league can do. As a catcher if we focus in on him, we can make him more of a guy that people are talking about just based on throwing him the ball more. So I think we have an excellent tight end with good speed, size. I think we had a combination of as good a tight end, the makings of, as anyone around in Kellen."
Sounds as if Smith expects a Vernon Davis-type leap from Kellen Davis, an unrestricted free agent, in 2012.
While it's an interesting premise laid out by Smith, just remember, Vernon Davis is a former first-round pick (No. 6 overall in 2006) with first-round talent.
Kellen Davis went in the fifth round. Some would argue for good reason.