Chicago Bears: Football
In all, the club cut 14 players which moves the roster to 76. The moves came two days before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET NFL deadline for teams to trim their rosters to 75 players, and as often is the case around the league, done as a courtesy for players to give them the best possible chance to find work with another team as soon as possible.
Other cuts included receiver Devin Aromashodu, running back Curtis Brinkley, defensive tackles Brent Russell and Eric Foster, offensive tackle A.J. Lindeman, center P.J. Lonergan, safety Derrick Martin, tight ends Gabe Miller and Leonard Pope, linebackers Patrick Trahan and Lawrence Wilson, and punter Tress Way.
With one cut remaining, the Bears could wind up releasing another player today or in the next couple of days in advance of Tuesday’s deadline. Teams aren’t required to release players early, but this is done every season as a courtesy for veterans so they can find new work as soon as possible.
Zbikowski came into the league in 2008 as a third-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens, where he played four seasons as a standout on special teams. Zbikowski played in the second half of Chicago’s exhibition win over the Oakland Raiders on Friday, and contributed three tackles. As of early Saturday, at least one general manager had expressed interest in acquiring Zbikowski. The Steelers expressed an interest in free agency, but Zbikowski chose the Bears.
As for Moore, a fourth-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2009, high numbers at defensive end might have contributed to the Bears making the decision to part ways. Moore posted a sack against the Raiders for an 11-yard loss, but he was fighting an uphill battle to win a spot at a position already stocked with players such as Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, and Shea McClellin. Moore was competing with rookie sixth-round pick Cornelius Washington and veteran Cheta Ozougwu for one of the final spots at the position.
Moore signed for the veteran minimum in April ($715,000) with no signing bonus. The club had already invested $103,788 in a signing bonus for Washington. It’s important to remember that when a team invests money in a player, it will always give him more opportunity to make the roster than a player it didn’t spend to acquire.
In addition to the sack tallied Friday night against the Raiders, Moore had contributed three tackles in three preseason outings, meaning he’s compiled plenty of film for teams to study if they’re interested in acquiring the defensive end.
Jeffery could return to the field in two weeks, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The Chicago Tribune was the first to report the details of the surgery.
Jeffery was supposed to make a public appearance Tuesday night but had to cancel due to the upcoming procedure.
Jeffery hurt the knee in the Bears' 32-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and spent the fourth quarter on the team's bench with his right knee wrapped in ice. The second-round pick gave the impression his injury wasn't serious when he jogged back to the visitors locker room with his helmet on after the game, but clearly that wasn't the case.
This is the second injury of the season for Jeffery, who fractured his right hand in the Bears' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 7 and missed the next four games before returning against the 49ers.
Jeffery has 16 catches for 199 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
Behind second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who got the start in place of Alex Smith, the Niners picked the Bears apart in the passing game. Kaepernick threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns while posting a quarterback rating of 133.1.
"I've seen him (Kaepernick) in college and knew he was a good player," Bears free safety Chris Conte said. "I knew their coaches were ready and their scheme would be good. He didn't have to do a lot. He threw the ball to the outside when he had to and knew where he had to go with the ball. He really wasn't doing any reading at all. They just had a good scheme and they executed well."
One of most troubling aspects of the Bears' defensive collapse was the amount of big plays the 49ers were able to complete down the field. All year the Bears defense had done an excellent job in deep coverage where they limited opponents to just five passing plays of 30 or more yards. But they allowed Kaepernick to connect on three throws of 30 or more yards Monday, including a 57-yard strike to Kyle Williams.
King’s football program is a different story. It isn’t nearly as known, but Jeff Allen plans to change that.
Allen, who graduated from King in 2008 and started four years on the offensive line at Illinois, is expected to be selected somewhere in the opening rounds of the NFL draft next week.
“We have had some decent players from our high school program go onto college,” Allen said of King. “We just haven’t had any great players. That would be an honor for me. We’ve had some great players throughout time, but they obviously played basketball. To be included in the same sentence with them would be an honor.”
Always one of the bigger kids growing up, Allen gravitated toward football at an early age. His dreams of the NFL started not too long after he began playing when he was 9 years old.
The Nevada Highway Patrol said the accident happened around 2 p.m. on U.S. 395.
The limo, owned by Bell Limousine of Reno, was heading north when it left the four-lane highway, crashed through a wire fence, over a culvert and into a pasture, trooper Mike Edgell said.
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1. Offensive line: While the offensive line was successful opening holes for Matt Forte on the ground, the pass protection was subpar for much of the year. Starting quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked 52 times during the regular season, nine of those hits coming in the Bears’ Week 4 defeat at the hands of the New York Giants that resulted in Cutler leaving the game with a concussion. The Bears are high on second-year tackle J'Marcus Webb, who may be moved over to the left side, but it remains to be seen whether or not 2010 left tackle Frank Omiyale sticks in the starting lineup, or if the Bears decide to move Chris Williams back outside. If Williams lines up at tackle in 2011, the Bears must find a new starting left guard, and if Olin Kreutz does not re-sign, Angelo must find a new starting center. Even if Kreutz returns, as most expect, the Bears might still need to add two new starters on the offensive line in the offseason.
3. Cornerback: The plan was never for Tim Jennings to start at cornerback in 2010. Keeping that in mind, it's clear the Bears would prefer an upgrade at the cornerback position, and in a perfect world, that might come via the draft. But even if an in-house candidate (Jennings, Zack Bowman, Joshua Moore) ends up winning a starting job, there is no guarantee veteran Charles Tillman can stay healthy again for all 16 regular season games. Eventually, the Bears will have to replace Tillman, so adding another big, fast, physical cornerback to the mix in 2011 would be a wise move. D.J. Moore had an excellent year at nickelback, but like Jennings, he probably doesn't possesses the necessary size to be a consistent, every-down cornerback in the Bears system. If Corey Graham is forced to return to Chicago as a restricted free agent, he is expected to only be used on special teams.
4. Linebacker: Angelo called the 2011 linebacker draft class weak, but because of expiring contracts and the uncertainty of the free agency, the Bears need to add a body or two at the position. Pisa Tinoisamoa, Rod Wilson and Brian Iwuh are all unrestricted free agent, while Nick Roach is stuck in limbo between being an unrestricted free agent or a restricted free agent with four years of NFL service. With only Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher guaranteed to be under contract with the Bears in 2011, Angelo might have to use a pick on a linebacker, despite his claims the rookie crop is below average. If nothing else, the Bears probably need at least one new linebacker to help out on special teams in the fall.
5. Wide receiver: It's true the Bears remain high on receivers Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, but with the departure of Devin Aromashodu, Angelo could use a bigger target in the passing game to help out Cutler. Maybe the answer is former CFL star Andy Fantuz, who is expected to compete for a roster spot when (or if) the Bears are permitted to conduct a training camp. However, to assume Fantuz's transition from the CFL to the NFL will be seamless is a bit of a stretch. Angelo believes in waiting until at least the third round to select receivers -- the lone exception came in 2005 when the Bears took Oklahoma WR Mark Bradley in the second round -- so while fans might be screaming for the Bears to chosse a wideout early, it probably won't happen. A mid-to-late round selection would seem appropriate considering the loss of Aromashodu and the impending free agency of veteran Rashied Davis, who because of special teams value, the Bears should strongly consider re-signing.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Martez Wilson fantasizes about taking the Derrick Rose route.
Like Rose, Wilson attended Chicago Simeon. Like his basketball counterpart, Wilson sees himself starting a professional sports career in his home town of Chicago.
“If I could, that would be great to play for a team I grew up rooting for,” Wilson said. “But no matter who drafts me, I’ll be happy.”
Wilson missed most of the 2009 season after undergoing neck surgery, but returned last season to lead the Illini in tackles, in addition to posting four sacks and an interception to go with 11.5 tackles for lost yardage. It was the type of season Illinois expected from Wilson when he arrived on campus in 2007, but he never seemed to deliver.
“It was very much-needed,” said Wilson, a junior who gave up his final year of eligibility. “Just having that moment [after] coming off neck surgery; most people wouldn’t want to play football again after an injury of that nature. It was important to come out like that. To have a great season like I did was wonderful. I loved every minute of it. It was precious.”
What probably isn’t as cherished an experience, though, is all the poking, prodding and interviewing with Wilson going on behind closed doors here at the combine.
In addition to having to answer questions about injury concerns, Wilson will have to address questions about character. Wilson was stabbed prior to the 2009 season while reportedly helping a former teammate during a fight outside a bar.
Wilson’s underachieving college career will also become a topic of conversation. He posted 112 tackles in 2010 to go with four sacks, after generating a combined 102 tackles and five sacks over his first two seasons.
“I was told for the past two months that it’s a job interview, so give as much information as they need and want, and be up front and honest with them,” Wilson said. “So that’s what I’ve been doing so far.”
He’s also showcasing his confidence in meetings with teams.
Scouts like Wilson’s upside and quickness, but question his instincts. They also express concerns about why Wilson never lived up to all the hype coming out of high school.
Wilson, meanwhile, says he has “the potential to be one of the best ever.”
“I’m very confident in my game, and as you can see, I don’t show [any] shyness” Wilson said. “I want [scouts and coaches] to know this kid really loves the game and plays with passion. If I do everything well that I need to do here and continue to improve even after the combine and impress scouts, impress coaches and general managers, I think my chances are very high. I’m confident in myself and I’ll be working very hard. The sky is the limit.”
Wilson is considered a potential first-round talent by some, and a raw third- or fourth-round prospect by others. Illinois sports a talent-rich tradition of linebackers that went on to stellar NFL careers, and Wilson wants to become the latest addition to the group.
When a reporter mentioned former Illinois greats Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke, Wilson countered quickly.
“And Dana Howard, Simeon Rice, the list goes on,” Wilson said. “The coach said if you want to be one of those great guys, you have to do what’s needed to be great. You have to do what people aren’t doing. You’ve got to watch more film, exercise more, stretch more, things like that. I take [note of] everything and I do those things.”
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"Everything went as planned," Smith said. "It was minor surgery that he had, but hopefully before long we'll be able to get him back on the field."
It's unknown where Garza will play upon his eventual return. Chris Williams and Edwin Williams are penciled in to start at guard Sunday against Seattle, and Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice said he'd like to have his final starting combination set by this weekend.
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Vander Kooi's squad, which is in its second year of varsity football, is 5-0.
The Bears are donating $1,500 to Lincoln-Way West's program, and Vander Kooi will be invited to the Bears-Patriots game on Dec. 12. He'll be recognized during an on-field ceremony. He'll also be able to attend a Bears practice and talk to head coach Lovie Smith.
Talk to the guys about the Bears' win over Green Bay, and they're upcoming game against the Giants. Click here to submit questions before the chat, then come back at 11 CT.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Blessed with relatively good health in the early part of the season, the Chicago Bears suffered two keys injuries in their Week 2 victory over Dallas.
"We're evaluating them now," Smith said Monday. "Hopefully they'll make progress each day as we go along. It's the first time Chris has pulled a muscle. We're just hoping, in general, that guys will come back before long."
"I'll be fine," Williams said in the postgame locker room Sunday.
Once Williams left the game, the Bears eventually settled on the tackle combination of Frank Omiyale (left) and Kevin Shaffer (right). That duo could be called upon to start next Monday against Green Bay if Williams is out.
"I haven't heard anything yet," Omiyale said about this week's practice plan. "I would think they would try to mix up it [regarding which tackle spot I play], so everybody gets a good work in everywhere."
Meantime, this marks the third setback for Wright since the Bears drafted him in the third-round in April. The rookie suffered a groin injury early in camp before fracturing his left index finger in the preseason opener in San Diego, which required surgery and forced the safety to miss the final three preseason contests.
"He hasn't been injury prone or anything like that," Smith said. "Guys pull muscles, running hard trying to stop a touchdown. I can't say those other injuries should be something everlasting for him."