I’m riding the rails on my way to Springfield for a Christening. Watching my friends raise children is neat. Being asked to be a Godparent is an honor and a blessing. I’m powering through these Bullets while on the train.
- The end of the offseason training program brings updates on player health and where the team happens to be with regards to the learning curve of the new things that are in the fold. Let’s dabble in that for a moment.
- Kevin White’s situation checks both boxes. White is hoping to stay healthy enough to make an impact with the team that drafted him in the first-round in 2015, writes ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson. Since the Bears declined to pick up the pricey fifth-year option on White’s contract, the 2018 season might be his final season with the team. The challenges ahead of White are pretty clear. He’ll need to learn a new offense from a new different offensive coordinator while working with a third different position coach in as many years. And White will also have to battle for a spot where the Bears loaded up competition. It won’t be easy, but all he has to do is look at what Kyle Fuller did last year if he needs inspiration.
- White has a long way to go toward proving his worth, and it won’t help the public’s perception after reading Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar paint White as the team’s most overpaid player. White hasn’t lived up to his four-year rookie contract, as he has been unavailable for more than 90 percent of the team’s offensive snaps since draft day. White has just five professional games under his belt, and didn’t look like a standout receiver in the handful of snaps he was out on the field.
- On the other side of the spectrum, Farrar’s BR teammate Brad Gagnon highlights running back Jordan Howard as the team’s most underpaid player. Howard’s four-year deal pays him a total of $2.6 million, and it has definitely been well-earned so far. Howard has rattled off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first two seasons and increased his scoring output from six to nine. While that’s some nice production from the Indiana product, getting him more involved in the passing game would help him (and the Bears’ offense) reach another level.
- While White was handed a big-time rookie deal as a top-10 pick, Howard is stuck waiting it out despite two years of premium production. The Bears can’t start negotiating an extension until after the 2018 season. Chicago has two years of team control on Howard, and has started to make a trend of rewarding its own players who excel in the system. However, teams seem to be hesitant to hand out big-money extensions to load-carrying backs like Howard. Matt Forte was the rare exception of a running back getting a multi-year second contract with the team that drafted him, but if Le’Veon Bell has to play it year-to-year on the franchise tag, it can be hard to envision the Bears breaking the mold for Howard.
- Leonard Floyd is one of the injured players whose mere participation in minicamp was encouraging news. John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago believes the 2018 season could be a tipping-point year for Floyd, who has yet to complete a full 16-game season. Floyd expects to be 100 percent ready when the season starts and hopes to shed a knee brace he feels restricts him sooner, rather than later. Once he does, he’ll find himself in a role where he is expected to lead the Bears’ group of pass rushers – which happens to be the most underwhelming position group on the defensive side of the ball.
- The hope is that Floyd lives up to the billing of a top-10 pick. It almost gets lost in the shuffle that the Bears traded up to draft Floyd in 2016. The good news is that he has shown flashes and an ability to learn quickly and adapt to his surroundings. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t seen what Floyd could do over a full, healthy season. But I have a feeling we’ll see that soon.
- These two guys – both Bears draft picks – each hold keys to what could be a successful Bears season:
Two key players for the Bears in 2018. pic.twitter.com/JlG5eGmTBq
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 9, 2018
- Matt Eurich of 247 Sports puts together a list of the best current NFL players who are former Bears, and I must say the Bears could field a pretty competitive offense with Greg Olsen, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, and Robbie Gould.
- Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah was a preferred target for some Bears fans this offseason in what was a shallow market for pass-rushers. Ansah never made it, as the Lions slapped the exclusive franchise tag on the talented defensive end. Detroit has until July 16 to sign him to a long-term extension, but mum is the word from Ansah, who tells the Detroit Free Press that he isn’t thinking about it.
- It’s a tough break for the Vikings, as Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports rookie edge defender Hercules Mata’afa tore his ACL. I suppose the good news here is that Mata’afa’s agent believes his client will return “sooner than 90 percent of most ACLs.” Mata’afa appeared to be one of those notable undrafted free agent steals who probably should have been drafted despite the fact he was going to have to learn a new position at the pro level.
- Terrell Owens is going to sit out the Hall of Fame festivities in August, which is fine by me. More time for Urlacher! An old college coach I used to cover once-upon-a-time used to tell me a key in recruiting was not to trouble yourself worrying about players who don’t want to play for you. That concept can be applied to Owens. If he doesn’t want to be a part of festivities, that’s fine. It’s his loss to not share the spotlight with his contemporaries. Not everyone is going to feel that way. In fact, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio highlights a Hall of Fame voter who wouldn’t have voted Owens in had he known he wasn’t going to show up.