Getting new Taylor Swift tunes does wonders to lift a spirit on an otherwise overcast Friday. And if it results in us getting a re-release of her summer banger album 1989, then I’ll probably forget this gloomy week ever existed.
• Rookie minicamp begins TODAY for the Chicago Bears. Their 11 picks and 16 undrafted free agents highlight a weekend featuring 69 players putting in work at Halas Hall. You can check out the full list of attendees here. Even if there is some on-field work, I don’t expect anything earth-shattering to come from this weekend’s minicamp. But surely it will be nice for players and coaches to put faces to names after a lengthy pre-draft process. Think about it. You go months where everyone is talking to each other without going too deep, then the draft comes, and a week later you’re thrown into the mix with a bunch of new guys. There’s a lot going on, even if there isn’t going to be a ton going on when it comes to on-field stuff. After all, you can do only so much with your crop of rookies.
• And, yes, even if the Bears’ rookies haven’t signed their first contracts before festivities kick off today, they can still participate. Many do. Remember, Mitchell Trubisky was all in on all of the Bears’ offseason training rookie events in his first year — and he didn’t sign his deal until right before training camp began. The NFL has a deal in place allowing rookies to still get their deals in case they are injured during these things. It’s a good look for the league. Hopefully, everyone emerges from this weekend with a clean bill of health.
• Since the end of the Marc Trestman era, the Bears coaches who have followed have done a better job of inviting the old guard to speak with this era of Bears players. First-year Head Coach Matt Eberflus is no slouch in this regard, bringing in Charles “Peanut” Tillman to speak with the rookies:
Passing the torch.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 6, 2022
• No word on if Tillman confirmed or denied he was one of the FBI agents who raided the house of rapper Lil Reese.
• I’m not sure there is a better choice of retired Bears player to speak to young, impressionable players than Tillman. That guy exemplifies everything you want a Bears player to be moving forward. A second-round pick in his draft class, Tillman earned a starting role early, held his own against some of the toughest matchups versus future Hall of Famers such as Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson, took home Pro Bowl honors, changed the game with his “Peanut Punch” that still gets used to this day, and earned the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. He didn’t win a Super Bowl in Chicago. But other than that, his career arc is what you’d want from a Bears player. Hopefully, all that good stuff rubbed off on the young guys.
• We knew the Bears were leaning heavily on the Senior Bowl as they were looking to unearth some late-round draft gems. but one team scout gave it some deeper perspective. Breck Ackley’s re-telling of his seeing Ja’Tyre Carter lining up in drills paints a picture, via the team’s official website:
“I was actually on the field right off the bat and they go to one-on-ones,” said Bears area scout Breck Ackley. “That’s kind of the highlight for O- and D-line. You want to see them. I believe it was an Oklahoma guy he lined up against, so I’m kind of back there standing by the goal-post going, ‘Here we go, baptism by fire.’
“He gave a little ground, kind of sat on it, then when he came out of the rep he almost barked back a little bit. It was almost like he himself realized, ‘I can hang.’ After that, every other rep, he battled and held his own. There’s going to be some losses. I mean, everybody there goes up and down, but he just kept showing up and held his own. I was excited to see him battle and kind of realize he could play at this level.”
• Seeing a player’s tape is just one step in the process. But getting an eyes-on, in-person look takes the evaluation to another level. Especially at a place like the Senior Bowl where someone like Carter – who played collegiately at Southern University – didn’t get a bunch of chances to square off against the highest levels of competition. Flashing at the Senior Bowl can do so much for so many. Just ask Senior Bowl standout Cooper Kupp (among many others).
• I hope the Bears are active enough (and successful enough) in scouting Senior Bowl talent to where I forget that Ryan Pace and John Fox had their entire staffs there in 2017 and failed to fully take advantage of that situation, coming away with just one player (OL Jordan Morgan) — who didn’t even make it through his rookie contract with the team.
• Whoever is responsible for assigning lockers at Halas Hall should get a hearty pat on the back:
Very cool: Rookie WR Velus Jones Jr. shows his locker being right next to Justin Fields in his latest IG story.
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) May 5, 2022
• No, Justin Fields won’t be throwing to the rookies this weekend:
Ryan Willis and Ball State’s Drew Plitt will be the QBs at Bears rookie camp this weekend.
The first practice is today, presumably inside the Payton Center given Mother Nature’s continuing hatred of us.
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) May 6, 2022
• This might be as close as we get to Tom Brady coming clean about the “Tuck Rule” actually being a fumble:
Everyone keep this on the down low please. pic.twitter.com/xPtrg1kXjr
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) May 5, 2022
• Brady says it might have been a fumble. And that usage of might saves him a whole lotta issues. Even still … I’d be curious what the alternative universe looks like in which the fumble stands. Does Drew Bledsoe become the G.O.A.T.? What happens with Bill Belichick? Are the Rams still in St. Louis because they win that Super Bowl? Are the Chargers Los Angeles’ football team or are they still sticking around in San Diego because there is no Rams squad luring them to Inglewood? So. Many. Alternative. Outcomes. If anyone has the ability to travel to the world between worlds to explore these other timelines, hit me up. My DMs are open.
• UGH! This feels wholly unnecessary:
The full NFL schedule will be released on May 12. But the NFL will also slowly trickle out some games throughout the week.
May 9: ESPN will announce some of their games.
May 10: CBS's turn
May 11: FOX's turn
May 12: NBC's turn + all teams will announce their first home game.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) May 5, 2022
• Just get the schedules out so fans can plan their treks to watch their favorite teams already. Sheesh!
• An old friend checking in with some old friends:
Veteran LB Nick Kwiatkoski visited the #Falcons today, per source. He has two other visits lined up and should sign somewhere soon.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 5, 2022
• Showing some love for the reigning WNBA champs:
The champs are back. 🏆
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 6, 2022
• The Bulls might have their limitations, but I doubt the team we saw get taken down by the Bucks with a gentleman’s sweep will be the same one that opens this upcoming season:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 5, 2022
• Here we go again…
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 5, 2022
• I hope Kyle Davidson spends the Hawks’ cap space more wisely than his predecessor did last offseason:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) May 6, 2022