The next time I’ll see Southern Illinois’ football team in person, it will be Sep. 17, 2022 when the Salukis face the Northwestern Wildcats. Brace yourselves, nerds. The Salukis have never lost a pre-game, and we don’t plan on losing the football game either.
• Cardinals stars Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins have been given clearance to make their returns, per NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales. And just in time to play the Bears. Hopkins might be on a pitch count, but Murray figures to get a full workload. Awaiting Murray will be the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Month:
• Robert Quinn has been playing at a level that would have him in the discussion for the team’s MVP. Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling lists Quinn as Chicago’s most valuable player to this point of the season. In Quinn’s last four games, he has 5.5 sacks, 17 total tackles, 6 tackles-for-loss, 6 quarterback hits, and 2 forced fumbles. That is impressive on its own, but it takes on new life knowing all of this production has come while Khalil Mack has a been unavailable. Dak Prescott might have the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award in his grasp, but Quinn’s bounce back has been unique.
• Lining up opposite of Quinn figures to be Trevis Gipson, who has been rolling of late. The second-year player is starting to gain some traction with an increase in playing time. And as Brad Biggs (Tribune) points out, things are setting up for Gipson to make the most of a grand opportunity. Gipson has 3 sacks, 4 QB Hits, and 5 tackles-for-loss in 10 games. Those are modest numbers. But if Gipson can build off some recent strong play, it could help solidify his status as the Bears’ third pass-rusher. Gipson has played on at least 64 percent of the defensive snaps in four of the last five games. If more playing time leads to additional splash plays, it would be a welcome sight.
• More of this, please:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) November 25, 2021
Trevis Gipson is a violent man in the run game pic.twitter.com/8b1Dz3oCa2
— Brandon Robinson (@BRobNFL) October 5, 2021
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 10, 2021
• On the other side of the line of scrimmage, I’ll admit I’m jazzed up about Teven Jenkins joining the 53-player roster. We won’t know if Jenkins will be active on the game-day roster until 10:30 a.m. CT. Even if Jenkins is available, we’re unsure how much he can give it a go or in what capacity will he play. Let’s keep in mind Jenkins hasn’t had any game action since 2020, didn’t have training camp, and was unavailable for preseason games. The Bears would be wise to treat Jenkins’ early availability like it was preseason. Maybe a dozen or so snaps this week. Then bump it little by little until he shows he can take a full load. Jenkins’ development is as important as Justin Fields’, so Chicago should make sure to do right by him.
• Adam Hoge (NBC Sports Chicago) has an idea of what to expect when you’re expecting Jenkins to make his professional debut.
• In addition to Jenkins officially getting the call to leave IR, practice squad WR Rodney Adams and LB Bruce Irvin are getting the flex treatment for Sunday. The Bears’ wide receivers room is banged up with Allen Robinson II doubtful and Marquise Goodwin out, so it’ll be nice to have healthy bodies. Meanwhile, the collection of pass-rushers isn’t in great shape either. Bruce Irvin, who was a brought in before Khalil Mack was ruled out for the year, should get a nice opportunity to flash for someone. Today feels like a good day to make a good impression.
• This went down the last time we saw Andy Dalton and Rodney Adams sharing the field:
Rodney Adams TOUCHDOWN! pic.twitter.com/NB7IjBeGrx
— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) August 21, 2021
• I’m curious to see how Kindle Vildor bounces back today. Or even if he is given an opportunity to bounce back. Vildor hit the pine on Thanksgiving, grabbing some bench in favor of Artie Burns. It’s not that Burns was any better in Vildor’s place. But this is the time of year where it would be nice to get young players extended looks. Vildor, a fifth-round pick in 2020, is still only in his second year. And before this season began, the Bears thought enough of Vildor to start him opposite of Jaylon Johnson. Maybe outside cornerback isn’t for Vildor. Perhaps the Bears should assign Vildor some slot time. Can’t hurt, could help.
• Will Thomas Graham Jr., a sixth-round pick in 2021, get a shot at some point? Graham is just chilling on the practice squad as one of the few DBs the Bears have yet to trot out while searching for secondary help. So is receiver Dazz Newsome, by the way. I’m unsure what this says about how the Bears feel about their draft picks. But on the surface, I don’t love it. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that Day 3 picks don’t often make an impact. But it would be nice to see these players get opportunities to flash at some point before the year ends.
• Wow! The NFL was considering handing down a 6-8 game suspension for Bucs receiver Antonio Brown. This could’ve been huge:
From @gmfb: The NFL initially considered suspending #Bucs WR Antonio Brown and two other players 6-8 games for COVID protocol violations before settling on 3-game bans. Meanwhile, #Packers QB Aaron Rodgers got permission to travel for a bye-week doctor’s appointment. pic.twitter.com/OER0mYo52i
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 4, 2021
• To give it some perspective: A six-game suspension would’ve taken Brown through the end of the regular season. Meanwhile, an eight-game suspension could’ve kept Brown out of two playoff games. It’s not as if the Bucs have a shortage of weapons. But being without Brown surely would’ve stung.
• And now, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the NFL is reportedly asking teams around the league for more vaccination information and verification after the Brown mess. It was bold to let teams fend for themselves in the middle of a public health crisis. But maybe, with the idea of avoiding more instances like what went down in Tampa, this is one of those better late than never situations.
• One of Brown’s former teammates is on the verge of calling it a career:
Ben Roethlisberger privately has told former teammates and some within the organization that he expects this to be his final season playing quarterback for the Steelers, league sources told ESPN.
More coming ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, with a special start time at 9 am ET.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 4, 2021
• Michigan broke out the trickeration en route to blowing out Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game:
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 5, 2021
• Pitt QB Kenny Pickett broke records belonging to Dan Marino and Deshaun Watson, but nothing was as impressive as finessing Wake Forest’s defense with the fake QB slide:
AFTER BURNERS ACTIVATE 🚀🚀🚀
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) December 5, 2021
• You better believe this will open up a can of worms. Defensive players are taught to ease up when a QB starts their slide. But that needs to be re-thought if quarterbacks can pull out fakes like the one above. There is a happy medium somewhere, right?
• Chicago’s basketball team brought it against New York’s squads over the weekend:
LONZO BALL SAID GOODNIGHT.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 5, 2021
In two games versus the Nets …
— Elias Schuster (@Schuster_Elias) December 5, 2021
No Coby White. No Javonte Green. Alex Caruso played just 8 minutes. The Bulls beat the Nets for the second time this season.
I'm not sure how much more evidence we need, the Chicago Bulls are one of the best teams in the league. Watch out, folks.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 5, 2021
• The latest from MLB’s lockout:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 5, 2021