We’re just one day away from the first football game of the season. And while preseason games are essentially a mild representation of what professional football looks like, it’s (1) the first of five opportunities for players to make a strong enough impression to make the team and (2) better than nothing. Let’s get this show on the road already!
- The Bears and Ravens will be under the microscope before a kickoff even happens tomorrow, as onlookers will have their eyes fixated on how these two teams handle things during the playing of the national anthem. There’s a sense that whatever the Bears decide to do, it will be done as a team. At least, that’s the gist of what was said by Head Coach Matt Nagy and linebacker/NFLPA rep Sam Acho via the Chicago Sun-Times. Nagy said his team is still deciding how it will be handled, while Acho expressed confidence that doing whatever they do as a team will help “make substantive and significant change in Chicago.” Strong words from the Bears’ starting outside linebacker.
- I was mildly annoyed during the offseason when the NFL dropped its new anthem policy while other rules (ones that could have a significant impact on how the game is played on the field) seemed to get pushed to the backburner because of #headlines. So I suppose now’s a good time to refresh our memories on the new kickoff and helmet rules that will be in place starting tomorrow night.
- The league’s new helmet rule reared its ugly head as it became one of the reasons keeping linebacker Roquan Smith from signing his rookie contract, and thus, keeping him out of camp. While we could file that away as being an unintended consequence of the rule, we’re still uncertain how it will impact play on the defensive side of the ball in a broader sense. And as things stand right now, that’s a tad-bit important to a team whose strength is in its defense.
- Speaking of Mr. Smith, this is making me feel a bit uneasy:
Why Roquan Smith’s 16+ day holdout is remarkable… the vast majority of rookies are signed by now: https://t.co/ShatYQOVpz
— Michele Steele (@ESPNMichele) August 1, 2018
- Justin Blackmon never became the star he was supposed to be, while Kendall Wright has had a solid (yet unspectacular) pro career as a former first-round pick. I suppose I could take solace in Joey Bosa’s lengthy holdout not being that much of a negative impact. Bosa did go on to win the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Maybe holdouts tend to take their toll on offensive players more because of the rhythm that everyone needs to be in? Just a thought.
- Additional perspective on the situation:
Definitely not fair to call Roquan a distraction. He’s asking for a reasonable adjustment to a standard contract language to protect himself against targeting suspensions. Great kid. https://t.co/vq72tVTgmt
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 1, 2018
- Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune points out that the Bears’ defense hasn’t sent a player to the Pro Bowl since 2013, but that could change in 2018. Defensive end Akiem Hicks has made a case in each of the last two seasons, but it’s hard for a strong 3-4 defensive end on a team with more losses than wins to get momentum built toward attaining Pro Bowl aspirations. Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara could start building their candidacy if they find a way to turns some of those pass break-ups into interceptions. If I could wager on this, I’d probably throw some loose change on Eddie Jackson breaking out and earning Pro Bowl status. Jackson showed a nose for the ball during his rookie season and the best could still be yet to come for the second-year safety
- Brian Urlacher made a Pro Bowl a time or two (or eight) on his way to Canton, and his ex-teammates shared some love:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 1, 2018
- The feelings of respect were mutual on those ultra-talented (and yet, often disappointing) Bears teams Urlacher played for during his prime. While Urlacher was the best defensive player Bears offensive players saw whether in practice or in a game, Urlacher said the best offensive lineman he saw was the man in the middle that he practiced against daily. “Olin Kreutz,” Urlacher said, via John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago. “Olin Kreutz. I can say with full honesty that Olin Kreutz was the best lineman I ever played against. He could run, he could block, he could cut you, although he never did in practice, obviously. You weren’t going to out-smart Olin, weren’t going to out-leverage him. During training camp when we actually got to go against each other full speed, it got me ready for anything.”