Chicago Bears: Wednesday injury report a major concern

On Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Bears released their first injury report in nearly two weeks ahead of Sunday’s home matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. For a team that’s currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the Bears’ first injury report of the week wasn’t encouraging, with key starters on both offense and defense being injured.

Heading into a crucial matchup against the Ravens, the following Bears starters are injured: Akiem Hicks (ankle), Khalil Mack (foot), Eddie Jackson (hamstring), Allen Robinson (hamstring), Danny Trevathan (knee), Darnell Mooney (foot), and Alec Ogletree (ankle).

Of the names listed above, only Mooney and Ogletree were limited in practice on Wednesday, while the rest of the names were listed as did not practice. Looking at Hicks, Mack, and Jackson, the Bears’ defense would be short-handed on all three levels. Mack provides a stable presence as a pass rusher and tone-setter, while Jackson has covered up many holes in the Bears secondary throughout 2021.

The injuries to Mooney and Robinson are concerning for the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields. While the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has continued to develop chemistry with both wide receivers, Mooney’s connection with Fields is more important. As Fields continues to develop, Mooney is currently the only WR slated to be on the roster in 2022, with Robinson set to hit free agency in the upcoming offseason.

Other injuries to monitor include running back Damien Williams (knee), tight end J.P. Holtz (concussion), and kicker Cairo Santos (elbow). While Williams, was limited in practice on Wednesday, Holtz and Santos were full participants. This means it’s more than likely both Santos and Holtz will be ready to go in Sunday’s contest against the Ravens. Chicago could merely be precautionary and choose not to have Williams dress, especially with the emergence of rookie running back Khalil Herbert, who has burst onto the scene in 2021.

The Bears will release two final injury reports on Thursday and Friday ahead of Sunday morning when the inactives list will be announced just over an hour before kickoff.

Chicago Bears: Biggest questions at the MLB position

With Chicago Bears training camp around the corner, middle linebacker is a position that has remained relatively stable since 2018. The middle of Chicago’s defense will feature linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan once again, while Christian Jones, Josh Woods, Austin Calitro, and Joel Iyiegbuniwe will provide depth.

Smith, despite being snubbed from the Pro Bowl last season will enter training camp as the unquestioned leader of the group. A year after totaling 139 tackles, four sacks, and 18 tackles for loss, Smith will enter year four with a chip on his shoulder. Trevathan is entering year two of a three-year deal signed last offseason, giving Chicago continuity at the position.

As the Bears get ready to report to training camp, what are some questions at the MLB position? Let’s find out.

1) Will a full offseason benefit Trevathan?

Watching 2020 film, it was clear that Trevathan looked noticeably slower over the first six games of the season. Much of this was attributed to the virtual offseason in 2020, limiting on-field work. Entering 2021, with the NFL offseason more normal compared to last year, the hope is that Trevathan shows up to training camp in playing shape and ready to go, especially since the 10-year veteran has played just two full seasons since joining the Bears in 2016.

 

2) Which depth piece will step up?

Gone are the days of Nick Kwiatkoski holding the fort as MLB3 for the Bears. Chicago will need to rely on Jones, Woods, Calitro, and Iyiegbuniwe for depth, creating a four-way competition. Expect the Bears to carry two of the four players mentioned above. Iyiegbuniwe and Woods were on the team last season while Jones spent four seasons with Chicago from 2014-2017. Defensive coordinator Sean Desai will look to emphasize speed and coverage ability at the MLB position, two necessities for an inside linebacker to be successful in the modern NFL.

3) How good will Smith be under Sean Desai?

“A lot of great things,” Smith said on June 15th via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “I like Desai a lot. I think it’s going to be very good and he’s going to put us in a lot of good positions, so I’m looking forward to that.”

As we mentioned above, Smith was snubbed from multiple accolades last year, making 2021 an even more intriguing season for the former first-round pick. Desai’s defense will allow players like Smith to play faster, setting the stage for what could be a career year for Smith, continuing his ascension, becoming one of the NFL’s elite off-ball linebackers.

31 questions to Bears camp: What to expect from the MLB position?

The Chicago Bears will report to training camp in about two weeks and one positional group that’s considered to be a strength on the roster is middle linebacker. For the fourth straight year, the duo of Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith will anchor the middle of the Bears’ defense, giving the Bears two smart, instinctive, and physical players.

Expectations should see Trevathan and Smith have another strong year in 2021, with Joel Iyeigbuniwe, Christian Jones, Josh Woods, and Austin Calitro providing additional depth. The entire positional group features players who can drop back in coverage or defend against the run, giving defensive coordinator Sean Desai multiple options with sub packages.

Production-wise, Trevathan and Smith combined for 252 tackles in 2020 with both linebackers combining for 32 starts and five sacks. With both players expected to be healthy heading into 2021, combined with a full offseason, expect both players to play at a much faster pace, especially Trevathan who looked noticeably slower to start the 2020 season.

“Every year, you want to be a better defense 2018 was a totally different year,” Trevathan said via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “Those aspects and those standards were set so we know where we need to get to and we know we have the guys that are capable of doing that. We just want to be the best defense that we can be and in the league, we know we’re going to handle whatever teams throw at us.”

Middle linebacker is considered to be the quarterback of the defense and while Trevathan and Smith have proven to be solid options thus far, the only red flag that exists is depth at the position. How will Jones, Woods, Calitro, and Iyeigbuniwe hold down the fort. 2020 showcased that Chicago had a lack of depth at the position, which the Bears tried to address by signing Jones.

As Chicago gets ready for training camp, a major how the MLB position performs will determine whether or not the Bears need to address the position during the 2022 offseason, especially with Trevathan aging but with Smith emerging.

New York Giants news, 10/30 – What Eli Manning off the books means for Big Blue

New York Giants, Eli Manning

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The New York Giants kicked off the trade deadline period with a lucrative trade for Leonard Williams, giving up a third and fifth-round pick in the process. The fifth rounder could turn into a fourth if Williams is re-signed before the new league year.

However, the Giants are tied up in the salary cap department at the moment, with veteran passer Eli Manning accounting for 11.83% of the available space. He has a $23.2 million hit this season. Getting him off the books in 2020 will be a disappointing reality, but it will open up general manager Dave Gettleman’s checkbook and enable the team to go out and pursue big free agents.

A good portion of Manning’s cap will undoubtedly go towards extending Williams if he proves his worth this season with Big Blue. He could earn upwards of $10 million in free agency, possibly reaching up to $15 million. I anticipate he will meet in the middle around $12.5 million per season, and hopefully, he’s worth the price given his lack of production for the Jets recently.

The New York Giants, though, will also gain back the cap-space from Odell Beckham Jr. deal. They will have an additional $16 million to spend in free agency as well. I anticipate that Gettleman will look to add a top linebacker, free safety, and cornerback if they fail to move Janoris Jenkins before the trade deadline. However, it comes down to Williams and if this deal pays off, as wasting draft capital on a rental player makes little sense.

Here are a few free agents for 2020:

ILB: Danny Trevathan, A.J. Klein, Kyle Van Noy

Cornerbacks: Chris Harris, Jimmy Smith, Logan Ryan

Free Safeties: Devin McCourty, Rodney McLeod, Jimmie Ward, Ha-Ha Clinton Dix

Right tackles: Bryan Bulaga, Marcus Gilbert, Daryl Williams

The Giants have plenty of talent to work with this next offseason, and they will have tons of cap-space to fill positions of need with premium players. I expect they will have upwards of $80 million available, which gives them enough space to sign 3-5 top free agents.

Nonetheless–

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