Chicago Bears: Michael Jenkins

Previewing Preseason Week 3, Part II

August, 24, 2012
In which we look ahead to the remainder of Week 3 in the NFC North's preseason schedule:

Chicago Bears
Opponent: New York Giants
Location: MetLife Stadium
Day/Time: Friday/8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: After an intense week of discussion about linebacker Brian Urlacher's future, there is more reason than ever to scrutinize Nick Roach's play at middle linebacker. Whereas we once considered it a lock that Urlacher will be ready to start the season, there now seems at least a chance that Roach will open the year at middle linebacker. It's not his best position. … Punter Adam Podlesh has a hip flexor, so rookie Ryan Quigley will handle all of the punting duties Friday night. His performance will determine whether the Bears need to consider other options if Podlesh isn't ready to start the season. … The game will be televised nationally on CBS.
Focal point: What else, if not for the Bears' offensive line? The Giants aren't expected to play All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul because of back spasms, but they should still give the Bears' line its best test yet. The Bears would like to make a final decision on their starting left tackle, where J'Marcus Webb is trying to hold off Chris Williams, as well as at left guard. Chris Spencer and Chilo Rachal are competing for that job.

Minnesota Vikings
San Diego Chargers
Friday/8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes:
Tailback Adrian Peterson won't play but will participate fully in pregame warmups, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. … Cornerback Chris Cook (concussion) and nose tackle Letroy Guion (knee) aren't expected to play. … The Vikings will continue to search for possibilities to replace receiver Jerome Simpson during his three-game suspension. Look for second-year player Stephen Burton, along with veterans Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu, to all get long looks. … Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson has impressed the Vikings in training camp and could get a chance to work with the first team Friday night. … Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst will start for the Chargers, who don't want to risk starter Philip Rivers behind an injury-riddled offensive line. Tight end Antonio Gates will also sit out.
Focal point:
This might be middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley's final chance to secure the starting job. The Vikings haven't been thrilled with his tentative preseason performances, coming after a hip injury cost him the 2011 season. Another poor outing could put the team on a search for replacements.

Detroit Lions
Opponent: Oakland Raiders
Location: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Day/Time: Saturday/7 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Tailback Mikel Leshoure is expected to make his NFL debut, nearly 17 months after he was drafted and nearly 20 months from his last live game. Leshoure last played for Illinois on Dec. 29, 2010. He missed last season because of a ruptured Achilles and a portion of training camp this summer because of a hamstring strain. The Lions want to get him some preseason work because he'll has been suspended for the first two weeks of the regular season. ... New special teams ace Kassim Osgood isn't expected to play. ... Rookie Kellen Moore's chances of making the team increased with the release of R.J. Archer, but he still must earn a roster spot even though he is one of only three quarterbacks on the roster. The Lions could keep only two on their final 53-man roster.
Focal point: It would be nice to see defensive tackle Nick Fairley have a signature, breakout game to reinforce projections that he will be a significant factor this season. But in reality, a game with impact would suffice.

Catches and drops in the NFC North

July, 7, 2012
Some of you might already be aware of the cool feature running this week over at Pro Football Focus: A three-year study of a performance on a number of levels, including drops and their frequency relative to opportunities.

NFC North players were ranked at the top and bottom of this analysis, so let's take this fine Saturday morning to run through most of them. Remember, drops are an unofficial and subjective statistic that sometimes varies significantly from outlet to outlet. The good thing, as always, is that all players in this study were subjected to the same standard.


Earl Bennett
Lowest drop rate (3.15 percent) of any NFL receiver
Comment: Bennett dropped four passes in 127 opportunities, partially explaining why quarterback Jay Cutler has so much confidence in him.

Michael Jenkins
Had 12th-lowest drop rate (5.88).
Comment: He had eight drops in 136 opportunities. Jenkins isn't a game-breaker, but is the definition of a reliable possession receiver.


Brandon Marshall
No. 1 overall in raw drops (35).
Comment: Marshall also had the third-most opportunities over that stretch, 303. That made his drop rate 11.55, the 10th-worst mark among receivers.

Brandon Pettigrew
Tied for the most drops (24) and highest drop rate (11.5) of any NFL tight end.
Comment: Pettigrew saw the fifth-most opportunities (208) over the time period. Most everyone would agree he has dropped a few too many.

Jermichael Finley
Fourth-highest drop rate (10.9) among tight ends.
Comment: Finley has vowed to clean up that part of his game.

James Jones
Second-highest drop rate (14.39) among all NFL receivers.
Comment: In total, he dropped 20 of 139 opportunities. His difficulties in 2009 have been well-documented.

Donald Driver
Seventh-most drops (22) and seventh-highest drop rate (12.3).
Comment: At best, Driver will be the Packers' No. 3 or No. 4 receiver this season.

Devin Hester
Had 15th-highest drop rate at 10.3.
Comment: Overall, Hester dropped 14 of 136 opportunities. If he gets more opportunities this season, as promised, well …

Final Word: NFC North

November, 25, 2011
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 12:

[+] EnlargeCaleb Hanie
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCaleb Hanie (12) gets the start Sunday for injured Jay Cutler.
Mobility: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler seems to surprise observers with his mobility. Those who know backup Caleb Hanie, who will start Sunday in Cutler's place at the Oakland Raiders, will not be caught unaware by his ability to move outside the pocket. At Colorado State and in Bears preseason games, Hanie has been a wide-open player who has a live arm but is more than willing to take off downfield if he sees an opportunity. He averaged about seven rushing attempts per game as a three-year starter in college and has had 17 carries in parts of 13 preseason games with the Bears. Mike Martz quarterbacks are typically pocket passers, but, for better or worse, that's not the case with Hanie.

The Gray Hole: The Raiders like to call one of the end zones in their home stadium, now known as Coliseum, "The Black Hole." But, for reasons that aren't entirely clear, they have been a better team on the road this season. They are 2-3 at home and have won four of their five road games. Whether it's a fluke or a trend, it's worth noting. This season, the Bears are 2-2 on the road with victories over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Getting to Palmer: New Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer threw three interceptions in each of his first two starts this season but has combined for only one more over his past two starts. The Bears have made their defensive living this season on turnovers and, in particular, interceptions. (They entered this week ranked second in the NFL with 15 interceptions.) There has been a fair amount of talk about leaning more heavily on tailback Matt Forte in Cutler's absence, but he already was producing more than 40 percent of the Bears' total offense even with Cutler in the game. It's more reasonable to expect elevated play from their defense than from Forte.

Peterson factor: How central has tailback Adrian Peterson been to the Minnesota Vikings' offense? Through 10 games, the Vikings' second-leading rusher has been receiver Percy Harvin, who has 28 carries via reverses and occasional backfield appearances. True No. 2 tailback Toby Gerhart has 24 carries. If Peterson's high-ankle sprain keeps him out of Sunday's game at the Atlanta Falcons, the Vikings will have a dramatically different offense. In this case, we're probably being kind. Their offense will be missing its only consistent playmaker and one who has the second-most carries (180) in the NFL this season.

Jenkins' revenge: The Falcons didn't want to re-sign receiver Michael Jenkins, and the Vikings quickly scooped him up in free agency in part because of his familiarity with the offense of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who had been the Falcons' quarterbacks coach. Jenkins has pretty much played as advertised: He's been reliable when the ball is thrown his way, catching 36 of the 49 passes he's been targeted on, but he hasn't been much of a playmaker after the catch. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Jenkins is averaging only 2.9 additional yards after each catch.