Fantasy: Jay Cutler

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
5:25
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Christopher Harris analyzes Jay Cutler's draft value.

Bears waive RB Jordan Lynch

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
3:40
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The Chicago Bears announced they waived running back Jordan Lynch on Friday, in addition to terminating vested veterans Armanti Edwards, Jeron Mastrud, Dennis Roland and Robert Turner.

A Heisman Trophy finalist as a quarterback at Northern Illinois, Lynch converted to a running back with the Bears, which signed him as an undrafted free agent. The club's decision to waive Lynch doesn't come as a surprise, as he wasn't given repetitions at running back until the fourth quarter Thursday night of the team's loss to Cleveland in the exhibition finale.

[+] EnlargeJordan Lynch, Jordan Poyer
AP Photo/Tony DejakJordan Lynch rushed for 18 yards on six carries against the Browns on Thursday.
Lynch rushed for 18 yards on six attempts in his first action since the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, and played special teams for the first time with the Bears. Lynch dressed for the third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, but did not play.

A standout at Mount Carmel, Lynch can still be added to the Bears practice squad, which has been expanded from eight to 10 players starting this season, provided he makes it through waivers unclaimed by another team. Earlier in the week Lynch said he'd be open to joining Chicago's practice squad.

"It's a night and day difference, I didn't really know. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I really didn't. The physical condition you have to be in to play running back and special teams is night and day. But it's fun to go out there, and the more reps I get the better I get," Lynch said. "Sky's the limit. I feel like being on a practice squad like that, there's so many things I can do. I can play quarterback. I can play running back. I can kind of split out and play receiver, and just give the Bears any chance to get a better look for that week."

NFL rosters must be reduced to 53 players by 3 p.m. CT Saturday, and after Friday's moves the roster stands at 70.

Headed into the matchup against Cleveland, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer expected Lynch to receive an opportunity to showcase his skills.

"He’s got natural skill to run the football whether he’s at quarterback or halfback," Kromer said. "So this will give him an opportunity to do something, and show it on tape and in a game, and we look forward to it.”

In two seasons as the starting quarterback at NIU, Lynch compiled a record of 24-4 with three victories over BCS teams, and ranks as the No. 3 all-time rusher in the school's history (4,344 yards on 662 attempts and 48 touchdowns).

Chicago Bears' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:00
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Examining the Chicago Bears' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Fales looked good in the first half of the preseason finale at Cleveland, but fell off somewhat in the second half. Still, Fales showed enough to prove he belongs. There's still a chance the Bears try to waive Fales and bring him back to the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Senorise Perry and Jordan Lynch made late pushes in extended action to close the preseason, but neither will overtake Draughn and Carey.

RECEIVERS (5)
Josh Bellamy made a strong case to make the team against the Browns, but Holmes showed he's still a dynamic player. In fact, if Holmes grasps the offense quickly enough, he could wind up as the No. 3 receiver, which would mean Wilson's time will have to wait.

TIGHT ENDS (2)

Rosario remains the most well-rounded tight end among the candidates for the No. 2 spot, and should stick.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Britton returned to play in the preseason finale and while other players have flashed, the veteran is probably still the most consistent.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Cornelius Washington and David Bass, received extension action against the Browns. The Bears have a tough decision here, but would likely go with Bass' experience.

LINEBACKERS (6)

This group has struggled throughout the preseason, but the team will likely take these players into the regular season. Jerry Franklin remains on the bubble.

CORNERBACKS (6)

The combination of youth and experience makes this position group one of the team's strongest.

SAFETIES (4)

The Bears released Craig Steltz and M.D. Jennings didn't show much in the last preseason game.

SPECIALISTS (4)

The Bears could decide to use Holmes as the return man and make Bellamy the sixth receiver. Initially though, the Bears will probably take a chance on Williams although he missed the majority of the preseason due to a hamstring injury.

MNF moments, No. 10: Bears' only '85 loss

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
9:30
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Nat Moore AP Images/Doug Jennings
To celebrate the 45th season of "Monday Night Football," a panel of ESPN.com contributors has selected the 45 most memorable moments in MNF history. Follow along as we reveal one per day and count down to this season's MNF debut.

No. 10: Dolphins 38, Bears 24 | Dec. 2, 1985


The 1985 Chicago Bears were one of the most dominant teams in NFL history. Including the playoffs and a 36-point victory in Super Bowl XX, that team won 18 games by an average of 19.6 points.

But there was one blemish on the Bears' record that season, and it happened on "Monday Night Football" against a franchise whose name is synonymous with perfection.

Members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins were in attendance when the 12-0 Bears traveled to Miami in Week 13. On the game's first possession, Miami quarterback Dan Marino hit Nat Moore for a 33-yard touchdown. The Bears hadn't allowed a point in two straight games, or a touchdown in 13 straight quarters, prior to the score.

Marino would lead the Dolphins to 31 points by halftime, a total no other team could amass over a full game against the '85 Bears. The Bears would forget the loss quickly, allowing just 43 points over their final six games, including the Super Bowl.

But on that December night, the '72 Dolphins could rest easy knowing they would remain the only unbeaten team in NFL history.

Bears Wrap Up Preseason

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
1:10
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ESPNChicago.com's reporter Jeff Dickerson breaks down the Bears' 33-13 loss to the Browns in their preseason finale.
CLEVELAND -- Veteran Santonio Holmes' odds of making the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster increased on Thursday when the wide receiver turned a routine slant route into a 32-yard second-quarter touchdown reception, a sequence that proved Holmes still has the ability to make impact plays at the NFL level.

"It was a slant route and I felt the coverage of the defender; he was playing a little over the top," Holmes said. "I made a couple good plays afterwards and finished the play off."

Holmes
Holmes admits he hasn't mastered the entire Bears' playbook since he signed with the team two weeks ago, but the former Super Bowl MVP gives the team experience and flexibility, not just on offense, but also on special teams. Holmes followed up his touchdown with a 30 yard punt return, one of the few bright spots in the return game for the Bears all preseason.

"We saw the punt return. Obviously, he did a good job with that," head coach Marc Trestman said. "How far along is he in the offense? Is he really ready to play enough plays to help us in that regard as we start the season? Can he catch some punts? It looks like he can. So we'll have that discussion and try to put it all together over the weekend to get us going moving forward Monday and into practice on Wednesday."

Holmes excelled in the return game early in his NFL career, but generally speaking, accomplished older players tend to lose their zest to field punts and kickoffs over time. However, Holmes' versatility could be a serious asset to the Bears after the team lost numerous core special teams players since the end of last season.

"I wouldn't say I would lobby for it [a role in the return game]," Holmes said. "If the opportunity and the spot opens up and coach wants me to play as a returner; I'll do whatever I can to help the team.

"I really felt in my heart that I can continue playing. Given this opportunity to play again, I just really take advantage of the opportunity. And the opportunity came today with me making a big play for the team."

Bears players are scheduled to report to Halas Hall for a weight lifting session at 1 p.m. on Friday, where the team will begin to trim the roster from 75 to 53 in advance of Saturday afternoon's deadline.

Does Holmes anticipate sweating out the final cuts?

"I still don't think I'm going to be concerned," Holmes said. "I'll leave it up to the coaches. If they want me here, I'll be here. If not, hopefully I'll land a job somewhere else."
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CLEVELAND -- Brian Hoyer drove Cleveland's starting offense to a rare preseason touchdown before turning things over to rookie Johnny Manziel in the Browns' 33-13 exhibition win over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.

Hoyer and Cleveland's offensive starters needed a boost after struggling in the preseason as they learn a new system. Hoyer went 6 of 8 for 69 yards on the opening drive against Chicago's backups before Ben Tate scored on a 1-yard run.

It was just the second TD for Cleveland's first-team offense this summer and a confidence builder for Hoyer, who barely beat out Manziel for the starting job.

Manziel threw a TD pass, finished 6 of 17 for 83 yards, ran for 55 and did some typical Johnny Football improvising.

Bears wide receiver Santonio Holmes caught a 32-yard TD pass from rookie David Fales and returned a punt 30.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL


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Chicago's starters received the night off, prompting the club to point the spotlight Thursday night on a group of backups comprised mostly of players not likely to survive final cuts.

Squaring off against Cleveland's starters, the Bears reserves held their own for two quarters in playing to a four-point deficit at the half, before eventually falling to the Browns 33-13.

Here are some other thoughts on the club's final preseason game:
  • Santonio Holmes quashed any question of whether he can still play against the Browns, taking in his only catch of the night from David Fales for a 32-yard touchdown in the second quarter. After hauling in the back-shoulder throw from Fales, Holmes spun outside and eluded Browns first-round pick Justin Gilbert en route to the score. Upon arriving at the sideline, Holmes gave the ball to Fales. “You see the explosion in him,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He caught a short throw, turned and ran, separated from the defense. That's a good sign.” Later in the quarter, Holmes fielded a punt and stumbled between a pair of tacklers to reel off a 30-yard return. It's probably safe to say Holmes' name won't be called for final cuts as the Bears saw what they needed to see. That's probably why Holmes came out after halftime no longer wearing pads. Now, the Bears need to work overtime to get Holmes up to speed to fill the No. 3 receiver role along with Josh Morgan.
  • Speaking of erasing doubts, it appears Fales did just that against the Browns. Starting in place of Jay Cutler, Fales completed 13 of 24 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown to Holmes. Fales made good decisions for the majority of his snaps in the first two quarters. What's more is Fales executed well against Cleveland's starters, as it played mostly first teamers in the first half. Chicago's brass will have a difficult choice to make, and -- depending on how much the team likes Fales -- might be forced to go into the season with three quarterbacks. If the Bears decide to waive Fales and bring him back to the practice squad, that plan could backfire as the quarterback would draw plenty of interest from other teams. Fales led the Bears to scores on three of their five first-half drives, but wasn't as sharp in the second half.
  • Josh Bellamy made Chicago's pending decision about which receivers to keep on the roster more difficult by the way he performed against the Browns. Bellamy caught four passes for 78 yards and drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty against Leon McFadden that provided the bulk of Chicago's yardage during its opening drive, which ended on a Robbie Gould 39-yard field goal.
  • With the regular-season opener against Buffalo on the horizon, the Bears held out the starters on both sides of the ball. The club kept out key reserves as well such as Morgan and Micheal Spurlock, along with running back Ka'Deem Carey, defensive end Trevor Scott, and defensive tackle Ego Ferguson. Second-team guard Eben Britton made his preseason debut against the Browns after missing a good portion of training camp and the preseason with a pulled hamstring. Safety Chris Conte (concussion) traveled with the team, but did not play as he continues to work through the league's concussion protocol.
  • The Bears must trim the roster from 75 players to 53 by Saturday at 3 p.m. CST.
CLEVELAND -- Here are five things we learned in the first half of the Chicago Bears’ preseason finale versus the Browns.

1. 53-man roster mostly set before game: The Bears offered up a fairly complete picture of the final roster when they decided to sit numerous reserve players like: Josh Morgan, Ka’Deem Carey, Brock Vereen and Michael Spurlock. Unless the Bears find better alternatives over the weekend; all four appear to be in decent shape as the final cut date looms on Saturday. However, the decision to rest Carey and Vereen is somewhat curious. Outside of their draft status as fourth-round picks, neither did much to stand out over the summer. And no, Shea McClellin was never going to be cut. The Bears have not abandoned hope of salvaging the career of the former first-round draft choice.

2. David Fales knows the offense: Fales lacks ideal arm strength, but he does come across as a smart quarterback who understands where the ball is supposed to go. He did a decent job under intense pressure, and showed serious courage by throwing the ball deep on several occasions. The Bears are probably better off keeping only two quarterbacks on the active roster, but Fales showed enough smarts in the preseason to warrant a spot on the practice squad, if he clears waivers as expected.

3. Santonio Holmes can help Bears: Holmes proved he still has some juice left when he broke a tackle to score a 32-yard touchdown, followed by a 30-yard punt return. Granted, Holmes accomplished this against Cleveland backups, but he made the most of the opportunities presented to him. Holmes has too much experience to let walk away. Josh Bellamy had himself a solid first half with two catches for 43 yards in the opening quarter, but Holmes seems a smart choice to be the No. 4 wideout behind Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Morgan, with Spurlock also in the mix. We’ll see how/if Marquess Wilson’s injury complicates the situation when it boils down to determining the 53.

4. FirstEnergy video screens a nice touch: The Browns installed two giant video screens in the upper decks behind each end zone, a move that greatly enhances the in-stadium experience in Cleveland. The Bears need to strongly consider adding similar technology at Soldier Field, because the current video setup is below average for a stadium built in the last 11 years. The fans would love it. And it opens up tons of marketing and sales opportunities for the club. That’s a win-win for everybody involved.

5. Browns took it seriously: Cleveland needed starting quarterback Brian Hoyer to orchestrate a touchdown drive. The Browns are desperate for good vibes heading into Week 1. We all know Cleveland will probably stink again, but this is a franchise that is trying to sell hope to its tortured fan base. They call this place the “Factory of Sadness” for a reason. But the home fans actually seemed upbeat after the first 30 minutes, especially when Johnny Manziel fired a touchdown pass. Mission accomplished for the Browns.

Bears rest starters in preseason finale

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
8:04
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CLEVELAND -- The Chicago Bears are taking a conservative approach to the preseason finale.

With the regular season opener 10 days away, the Bears appear to be resting all of their starters and several key reserves in the fourth preseason games against the Cleveland Browns.

The Bears made no official announcement except that rookie David Fales will start at quarterback in place of Jay Cutler, but nearly every member of the first-team offense and defense participated in pregame warm-ups without pads or helmets.

That list of players included: linebackers Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin, and right tackle Jordan Mills, who missed the first three preseason games with a foot injury.

Even certain backups seem to be getting the night off.

Wide receiver Josh Morgan, running back Ka'Deem Carey, wide receiver Micheal Spurlock, defensive end Trevor Scott and defensive tackle Ego Ferguson wore baseball caps instead of helmets while teammates went through pregame drills.

Safety Chris Conte (concussion) made the trip to Cleveland, but is not expected to play.

However, veteran guard Eben Britton is scheduled to make his preseason debut.

The Bears must reduce their roster from 75 to 53 by Saturday afternoon.
Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall's ranking improved from No. 23 in 2013 to No. 15 in this year’s edition of our #NFLRank project, in which ESPN ranks the Top 100 players around the league on both sides of the ball.

The latest rankings grouped players between Nos. 20 through 11.

Marshall
Marshall ranked one spot behind Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and one slot ahead of New England’s Rob Gronkowski. But No. 15 seems a tad low considering Marshall’s 10 touchdown catches thrown in the end zone tied with Dez Bryant (No. 13) for the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Alshon Jeffery was one of 23 players on offense to make his debut in the 2014 #NFLRank project, checking in at No. 31.

Coming off arthroscopic hip surgery in 2013, Marshall spent the 2013 offseason rehabbing instead of training, and missed time during training camp. In fact, Marshall probably didn’t hit his stride in 2013 until about halfway through the season.

Yet Marshall caught a career-high 12 TD receptions last season, finishing with 100 catches for the fifth time in his career for 1,295 yards. Marshall’s fifth 100-catch season ties Andre Johnson and Wes Welker for the most in NFL history.

Marshall was targeted 23 times in the end zone last season, which ties for A.J. Green for the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Serving as a mentor to Jeffery, Marshall acknowledges he grew off the field, too, in 2013, saying last season was the first in his career in which he was truly unselfish. Marshall also claims that 2014 will be his Michael Jackson “Thriller” year.

“Last year I grew spiritually, and that was the first time I was able to step outside myself on this spiritual journey and be able to say, "You know what, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I’m gonna serve Alshon Jeffery. I’m gonna serve Martellus Bennett." Because I know there’s something bigger. I’m a part of something greater. I can’t wait to see what it is,” Marshall said.

W2W4: Chicago Bears

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
12:00
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The Chicago Bears (2-1) face the Cleveland Browns (0-3) in the preseason finale at FirstEnergy Stadium:
  1. No. 3 receiver battle: This competition remains in the forefront as the Bears hope to take one last look at Josh Morgan and Santonio Holmes, who should now be a little more comfortable with the offense. Morgan caught three of the five balls thrown his way last week against Seattle for 48 yards, while Holmes hauled in one pass for 7 yards. Morgan has shown he’s perfectly capable of handling the No. 3 job while Marquess Wilson continues to heal from a fractured clavicle. Holmes could potentially add a dynamic element in the slot.
  2. David Fales in extended action: The Bears plan to play Fales the entire game to find out whether he’s truly worth spending the time and resources to develop. Fales played sparingly in the exhibition opener against Philadelphia, but hasn’t taken any snaps since this preseason. So this will be an opportunity for Fales to earn a spot on the 53-man roster as opposed to being waived and brought back later to the practice squad. Fales hit on 5 of 7 passes for 68 yards in his only brief action of the preseason. Bears coach Marc Trestman likes what he’s seen so far from Fales, who flashes superior anticipation skills.
  3. Return of injured players: The starters typically don’t play in the fourth exhibition game, but an exception could be made for starting right tackle Jordan Mills, considering he hasn’t played a single snap this preseason. Mills returned to practice Monday and could use a little full-speed work against the Browns as the Bears prep for the season opener against Buffalo. Trestman isn’t sure whether Mills will play. Eben Britton also returned to practice this week, and he’ll need to show what he can do against Cleveland to keep a roster spot because Michael Ola and Dennis Roland have come on during his absence. Like Mills, Britton hasn’t participated in any games this preseason.

Bears about to enter great unknown

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
2:47
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Marc TrestmanAP Photo/Stephen BrashearDoes second-year Bears coach Marc Trestman have the pieces in place for a playoff contender?

Typical of the Information Overload Age we live in, when it comes to the Chicago Bears as the regular season opens next week, we know everything and we know nothing.

From free agency through training camp, the Bears' offseason was covered with a fervor reserved for a presidential primary race. But the end result remains constant, like all previous seasons. We have ideas, based on knowledge, intuition and past experiences, on what to expect when the regular season begins, but with so many variables, oracles are few and far between.

Of course, that is exactly how the NFL likes it. It's why this sport crushes its competition. That's why the Bears are the undisputed kings of the Chicago sports landscape.

Yes, even over Jackie Robinson West.

The Bears provide weeklong drama, and we're all hooked. It's why tens of thousands of Chicago households will watch a meaningless fourth preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.

Every year, football fans talk themselves into believing their team is a Super Bowl contender. In Chicago, it is always "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" visions of a 14-2 season.

This season is no different.

On one hand, there's cause for real optimism with new Sports Illustrated (regional) cover boy Jay Cutler, looking like a scruffy Patrick Bateman, as the ringleader of a respectable if, dare I say it, dangerous offense.


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Bears preview: Make-or-break stretch

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
2:30
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The first half of this team's schedule fits that description, considering the Bears play five of their first seven outings on the road against the 49ers, Jets, Panthers, Falcons and Patriots. If the Bears go into their Nov. 2 bye relatively healthy with a record of at least .500, the rest of the schedule sets up nicely, with just three road games remaining and the rest set for the frigid winter conditions at Soldier Field, a definite home-field advantage during the latter portion of the season.

Complete Bears season preview.
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte improved his standing from a year ago in our #NFLRank project, moving from No. 48 to No. 29 in the latest edition, in which ESPN ranks the top 100 players in the league on both sides of the ball.

Forte
Forte
The latest rankings grouped players between Nos. 30 through 21. Receiver Alshon Jeffery was one of 23 players on offense to make his debut in the 2014 #NFLRank project, checking in at No. 31

Forte finished last season ranked third in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (1,933 yards) on the way to being named to his second Pro Bowl. Forte rushed for 1,339 yards, carrying the ball on 71.5 percent of the team’s rushes, which ranked as highest in the league, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Since 2008, Forte ranks third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (9,585), behind Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson.

Forte ranked one spot ahead of San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and one slot behind Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

None of Chicago’s defenders made Wednesday’s offering in the #NFLRank project.

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