Chicago Bears: Juaquin Iglesias
That’s the impression a red-eyed Juaquin Iglesias gave in his first public comments since the Bears released him Saturday -- a little more than a year after making him a third-round pick – before bringing him back to the practice squad. Despite other teams presenting opportunities, Iglesias couldn’t see past the time he’s already invested in the Bears.
“Frustrated, to be honest, I didn’t really know what to think,” said Iglesias in describing his reaction to the team’s decision to cut him. “I was just chilling with the family. It was a lot of emotions, man. It’s tough, man, but you know, it’s a league. There are ups and downs. That’s what I knew when I signed up.”
Shortly after meeting with the Bears on Saturday, Iglesias -- who was still dealing with the emotions of being cut for the first time in his career -- made the decision to return to the Bears, before other teams could call to inquire about his services.
Iglesias gave a variety of reasons for his return.
“I already had time invested, I believe in the system. I think the system is good. I just didn’t want to up and move and start all over, really,” Iglesias said. “Especially when I have a wife and kid at the house, I don’t want to just move somewhere else where I don’t have any time invested.”
Now that he’s on the Bears practice squad, Iglesias said he’s sought the advice of teammate Devin Aromashodu, who has experienced similar disappointment throughout his career. Aromashodu spent time with the Redskins, Dolphins and Colts before finding success with the Bears.
“It’s been tough, man. I’m not gonna sit up here and act like it isn’t,” Iglesias said. “I try to talk to as many people as I can. I talk to my family; talk to my wife. I talked to D.A. [Aromasodu]; he’s been through it a little bit. Especially, I think it helps when D.A.’s been through it, and you see him being successful. So I talked to him a little bit. He’s just saying he knows what I’m feeling and just to be strong and be patient.”
After catching four passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in the preseason, Iglesias figured he’d done enough to earn a spot on the Bears’ 53-man roster, but learned otherwise. Now, he’s got to figure out how to adequately grasp the offense in case the Bears call him up to the active roster in the coming months.
“I feel like when I’ve been in, I’ve made plays,” Iglesias said. “I don’t know, man. It’s just a lot that went into this decision and went into their decision. I can’t control it. I’ve just got to make the best of my situation. As a young receiver, I need to work on a lot of things, but I’m just trying to go on with this situation. It’s tough on me, but I’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Read the entire story.
CLEVELAND -- With the regular season right around the corner, here are five things to watch for in Bears' the preseason finale against Cleveland.
Will the offense to come life: Let's rewind the clock to the 2006 preseason. The Bears' offense, like the current 2010 version, struggled mightily in the first three exhibition games against San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona, but together a solid scoring drive in the preseason finale against, coincidently enough, the Browns in Cleveland. I realize the Bears have faced the Browns every year in the final preseason game since 2005, but that one memorable drive in 2006 seemed to breathe a little life into a unit that lit it up the first five weeks of the regular season. The first-team offense is expected to play only one series Thursday night, but it would be nice to see them move the ball and pick up a few positive vibes heading into Labor Day weekend. Will it be the end of the world if the offense goes three and out on their opening drive? No. Would it help the overall team morale if they move the chains and put some points on the board? Absolutely.
Can anybody win a job: Those on the bubble performed admirably against Arizona, but tough roster cuts are coming this weekend. Established players -- Tim Shaw, Garrett Wolfe, Josh Bullocks, Al Afalava -- and unproven high draft choices -- Jarron Gilbert, Juaquin Iglesias, Henry Melton -- are in jeopardy of failing to make the final 53-man squad. Usually, the final roster is already mapped out in advance of the last preseason game, but occasionally, a great performance in the exhibition finale can change the organization's mind. It's crazy to think Shaw, a premiere special teams player, could be in such danger, especially after all the units' issues this summer. But the Bears may feel like they can't justify keeping another specialist based on other needs, a flawed way to think, but unfortunately, it's the reality of the situation.
Can Todd Collins still play: Make no mistake about it, Collins was brought here to be the No. 2 quarterback. In no way should that fact be considered an indictment of Caleb Hanie, but Mike Martz simply could not enter the regular season with an injured Hanie and rookie Dan LeFevour. Expect Collins to see plenty of action versus the Browns, with LeFevour also getting a some time in the second half. Collins just needs to showing a basic understanding of the offense, complete a few passes, and protect the football. That would be the best-case scenario. If he goes out there and totally bombs, it will raise more questions about the Bears curious decision not to sign a quality backup (Marc Bulger) in the offseason.
Who else can block: Based on the performance of the offensive line in the first three preseason games, it might be about time to pay closer attention to the reserves. What if the Bears are forced to make a switch at tackle in the regular season, can Kevin Shaffer or J'Marcus Webb handle the assignment? How are James Marten, Josh Beekman and offseason first-team guard Johan Asiata progressing? Making wholesale changes on the offensive line would be a horrible move at this point, considering how long it takes for any line to build trust and chemistry. But if the pass protection problems carry over into the regular season, the Bears may be forced to use Plan B, whatever that is.
CHICAGO -- In a cruel twist of fate, the guys on the bubble probably performed better than certain players with guaranteed roster spots. Here's a quick recap of how the bubble players fared against Arizona.
Garrett Wolfe: Wolfe didn't get many touches on offense -- one carry, one reception -- but he came through with two special teams tackles. If Wolfe makes this team, it'll be because his play on special teams is far superior to Khalil Bell. Neither is expected to have a huge role on offense, but Bell got more work Saturday night, with five rushing attempts and two catches. This battle may go down to the wire.
Jarron Gilbert: Nice to see Gilbert make a play. The defensive end was credited with a sack and a forced fumble, by far the biggest impact he's made in the preseason. Is it enough to earn a roster spot? Probably not, but at least he has something positive to build on heading into the final preseason game in Cleveland. Expect Gilbert, Corey Wootton and Henry Melton to see plenty of action versus the Browns.
Dan LeFevour: He's not going to make the final 53-man roster, but LeFevour's performance may have earned the quarterback a spot on the Bears practice squad -- granted he clears waivers, which shouldn't be an issue. The rookie posted a quarterback rating of 129.2, completing 10 of 12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. One thing about LeFevour, he's certainly getting better every week. It's also a good sign for LeFevour that Matt Gutierrez failed to take a single snap.
1. Can the defense get off the field on third down? The Bears’ defense ranked 27th last season in third-down defense, and based on the preseason so far, it could be headed for similar statistics in 2010. The defense held opponents to a 20.6 conversion percentage on third-and-8 and longer last season, and against the Raiders last Saturday, the Bears allowed the Raiders to convert 37.5 percent in those situations. Not good. It needs to change, starting with Saturday's game against the Cardinals. The major contributor to the club’s third-down futility appears be shoddy tackling. The Bears have allowed what should have been just short gains fester into first downs because the first defender to the ball has missed the tackle. The Bears also need to tighten up in the secondary. Safeties Chris Harris and Danieal Manning seemed to be a split-second late on most of their reads.
3. Veterans on the bubble: This game may represent the final chance for certain players to prove their worth to the coaching staff since most personnel decisions are already set in stone before the final preseason game. Will Garrett Wolfe find a way to vault past Khalil Bell on the depth chart? Can former third-round pick Juaquin Iglesias do enough to earn a roster spot for the second consecutive year? Will Josh Bullocks or Al Afalava secure the final slot at safety? And how many defensive linemen will the Bears keep? Is there room for Jarron Gilbert, Corey Wootton or Henry Melton? Not only is the third preseason game the most valuable for the first team, it's just as critical for the reserves trying to make the final 53.
4. Can Cutler remain upright? The Bears don't need to break out Mike Tice's 37 pass protection schemes, but the offensive line must do a better job protecting the quarterback, regardless of how many stunts the Arizona defense throws its way. All eyes will be on Chris Williams, but right guard Lance Louis -- bothered lately by an ankle injury -- also needs to pick up his play. If you think the public reaction toward Williams was negative after the Oakland game, imagine if the tackle has another rough night on Saturday. One the other side of the coin, another strong performance by right tackle Frank Omiyale could go a long way in solidifying his confidence at the start of the regular season. They say chemistry up front is one of the hardest things to achieve in professional football. The Bears still have time for that to happen, but not much.
5. Safety combinations: Injuries to Major Wright and Craig Steltz continue to force the Bears to alter their plans at safety. Although the return of Bullocks should help in terms of numbers, Smith may get a little creative against Arizona, perhaps using a new face or two at the position.
"We've been in this situation before," Smith said earlier in the week. "It just seems like the secondary in general, there are a lot of injuries, because they run a lot and it's a physical game, especially with our safeties. They have been through this before, and we just look at it as an opportunity to see more guys. We came in with a lot of guys we like at the safety position, and we've needed every one. This week we may have to work a different combination, but during the course of the season, you have to work those combinations."
If there wasn’t before, Greg Olsen certainly made a case for heavy involvement from the position with a smashing performance in Sunday’s night workout that included six touchdowns (five during red-zone drills and one on the first play of 11-on-11 drills).
“Our red-zone package is pretty impressive,” Olsen said. “From Day 1, back at [organized team activities], when we first installed our red-zone package, I think guys got pretty excited. You get down in that area of the field, and we have to do better than last year. In the couple of days we’ve done red-zone, we’ve done pretty well.”
Quarterback Jay Cutler threw touchdown passes on each of his first five red-zone attempts.
Then, on the first play of team drills, Cutler fired a long pass down the seam for a touchdown to Olsen.
“He had a great night tonight,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “Jay threw the ball well. Offensively, we did some good things; got some good work down in the red zone.”
Once not considered a fit for Martz’s offense, Olsen said all the passes thrown his way Sunday night weren’t a product of Cutler trying to force him the ball.
“That’s just the way the balls end up going,” Olsen said. “[Cutler] is not dropping back and picking his guys. He’s following the progressions, and throwing it where it has to go. Tonight was my turn.”
Camp weather report
Temperature: 90 degrees
Heat index: 92 degrees
Juaquin Iglesias seems worried that he could be running out of time.
Iglesias displayed that sense of urgency Sunday during the Bears’ morning workout, which was closed to the public, by spending extra time after the session working on his cardiovascular fitness. A second-year receiver, Iglesias had missed time earlier in camp with a strained quadriceps, but returned for Friday night’s workout at Solider Field.
“I haven’t been out here,” Iglesias said. “And one thing, when you have an injury on your leg, you tend to put so much attention on that part that everything else gets weaker. So I’m trying to come out here and do the best I can to get my legs strong.”
In hot competition for one of the final roster spots at receiver, Iglesias finds himself wrestling with his urge to compete, and the need to take a smart approach to handling the injury. Iglesias appears to be in competition with Rashied Davis for one of the backup roles at receiver.
Iglesias performed well during the offseason, and figures to make the roster should the team keep six receivers. If the Bears decide to go with five wideouts, the club could be choosing between Davis and Iglesias.
Iglesias made a strong case for the club to keep him with a solid practice during Sunday’s night session.
“Right now, [number] one, two and three receiver wise, we have a good idea who they’ll be,” Smith said. “But those next positions are important. We keep telling the players if you keep working hard, eventually you’re gonna get a chance to prove what you can do. Juaquin, coming back from an injury, showed up tonight and that’s what you need to do.”
Iglesias considers Saturday’s preseason game at San Diego “everything” in his attempt to secure a roster spot.
“You can do so much in practice, and it’s all good,” Iglesias said. “You can catch 100 balls in practice, but when you get out there when the lights are on, and the crowd is out there, that’s when it counts. I haven’t played in a while, after being off last season. So I’m excited to get out there.”
A third-round pick in 2009 out of Oklahoma, Iglesias didn’t catch a pass as a rookie after being inactive the first 15 games. The club activated Iglesias for the season finale against the Detroit Lions.
“It is [hard], man,” Iglesias said. “Especially with a new offense, you want to get out there. You want to go as fast as you can, but at the same time, I’ve just got to be smart. I don’t want to hurt myself and be out for the rest of training camp. I’m trying to be smart about it, but go hard at the same time.”
Among those not participating in Sunday night’s workout: Safeties Danieal Manning and Josh Bullocks; running backs Harvey Unga (hamstring) and Brandon Minor; defensive end Mark Anderson; receivers Devin Hester (groin), Earl Bennett, and Antonio Robinson; defensive lineman Maurice Evans; defensive tackle Averell Spicer and linebacker Brian Iwuh.
“It felt great to be back out here doing my job,” Wright said. “It was just me playing football and going for the ball.”
Added Smith: “Before he went down with the injury, he was doing some good things, showing up. I like his energy. I like his ability to make plays on the ball. We figured he’d be a pretty good run-support player. But I like the way he’s played the pass. Good to see him back out there tonight.”
Garza appeared to struggle in line drills when Matt Toeaina overpowered him on consecutive plays. Smith indicated that Louis has impressed the coaching staff in the days he’s worked with the starters.
“He just needs reps, which he’s getting,” Smith said. “It’s helping him a lot, too, to go against our defensive line, which is pretty good. We’ve seen improvement in him, and he’s steadily moving up the depth chart.”
“I like what Craig Steltz was able to do,” Smith said. “Danieal Manning is a little banged up. It’s kind of ‘next guy up’, and Craig kind of took advantage of an opportunity tonight.”
"It wasn't serious at all," Iglesias said before lunch. "I knew it was just going to be a couple of days. I just tried to catch it before it started to get into the season.
“The day before [on Friday], I felt it a little bit, so when I took off running the next day I could tell it was kind of bothering me. I don't really know how it happened, but I just wanted to catch it early."
Iglesias, a 2009 third-round selection, was active for only one game his rookie year. He is currently fighting for a roster spot at wide receiver.
Other players not practicing Tuesday were: Major Wright (groin injury); Harvey Unga (hamstring injury); Chris Harris (sprained back); Hunter Hillenmeyer (undisclosed reasons) and Marcus Harrison (dehydration).
That’s the likely scenario faced by Chicago’s receivers, arguably the most competitive position group on the team. There’s even a small chance one of those openings could disappear, given recent reports about the club discussing a possible trade for San Diego restricted free agent Vincent Jackson, who -- according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter -- just received a three-game suspension from the league for violating its personal-conduct policy.
The Bears typically carry six receivers, and have done so in each of the last three years. With the addition of new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who brings a high-octane scheme reliant on multiple-receiver formations, there’s a slight chance the club could keep seven receivers. But it’s not likely.
Consider starters Devin Hester and Johnny Knox virtual locks to make the team, along with Devin Aromashodu and, more than likely, Earl Bennett. From there, we take a look at the seven remaining receivers, and their prospects for making the final 53-man roster.
Rashied Davis (5-9, 187 pounds, sixth year)
Primarily a backup and special-teams ace throughout his career, Davis will likely make the roster because of his versatility. Davis caught several observers’ eyes during organized team activities by consistently beating defenders to haul in long passes.
Might actually end up pushing Bennett for the fourth receiver spot, which is a significant position in Martz’s offense. Quarterback Jay Cutler mentioned Iglesias last month as one of the receivers who came on during the offseason. A former third-round pick, Iglesias should make the team. Finding a niche on special teams would help his cause.
Freddie Barnes (6-0, 215 pounds, undrafted rookie)
Appeared to outperform the other rookie receivers during minicamp and OTAs. A Chicago native, Barnes set multiple receiving records at Bowling Green and has a knack -- despite a lack of deep speed -- for separating from defenders. Likely destined for a practice-squad spot, but has the potential to win an active roster spot with a strong preseason.
Vic Hall (5-9, 185 pounds, undrafted rookie)
A versatile performer at Virginia, Hall started games at cornerback and quarterback and returned punts in addition to covering kicks throughout his career. The versatility raises Hall’s value. But all the multitasking in college makes Hall raw as a receiver. A place on the practice squad might be Hall’s best-case scenario.
Greg Mathews (6-3, 207 pounds, undrafted rookie)
Mathews put together an impressive streak at Michigan, catching at least one pass in 23 consecutive games, and also has experience as a return man. Still, his production in college (110 catches for six touchdowns over four seasons) indicates he won’t be much more than a camp body.
Eric Peterman (6-1, 202 pounds, first year)
A Northwestern product, Peterman faces long odds to make the team. The club originally signed Peterman last year as an undrafted free agent, cut him in September, and brought him back on the practice squad the following December. The fact Chicago re-signed Peterman in February bodes well for him, but he’ll likely wind up a victim of the numbers game.
Antonio Robinson (6-3, 195 pounds, undrafted rookie)
Robinson played in a triple-option offense at Nicholls State, which significantly affected his numbers. He possesses intriguing measureable attributes, but due partially to limited repetitions, Robinson hasn’t had many opportunities. At this point, Robinson appears to be another camp body.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com
Cutler made that clear by reiterating his stance Tuesday concerning the possibility of the club acquiring receiver Terrell Owens, who was spotted hanging out last month with the quarterback at Underground, a Chicago nightclub.
Read the entire story.
Listen to the entire Jay Cutler interview with "Waddle & Silvy"