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Bears Bullets: Another Breakout For Howard, More Unanswered Questions, Winning the Marshall Trade, More

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Charles “Peanut” Tillman still packs a punch in the community:

Sometimes, it’s just nice to lead here with a positive message. That is all.

  • Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that running back Jordan Howard has slimmed down and toned up for the 2017 season. Last year, Howard had a breakout rookie season in which he leapfrogged Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford on the depth chart by producing a 1,313-yard rushing season, culminating in a Pro Bowl appearance. A fifth-round pick in 2016, Howard seems to have found additional motivation with the Pro Bowl nomination, with eyes on performing better in his second season than he did as a rookie.
  • Despite having just one season of NFL experience, Howard is the closest thing the Bears have to a sure thing on their roster. The team still has a variety of unanswered questions, some of which were offered up by Chris Roling of Bleacher Report. Despite an active offseason, Roling brings to light six looming questions the Bears have yet to answer leading into training camp. Some of the answers, of course, will naturally reveal themselves over the course of the summer. For example, Kyle Long will settle into a position, the secondary shake-up will play out with a camp battle, the injury situations will clear up, and rookies will graduate into niche roles.

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  • One question that doesn’t seem to have a clear answer, however, is Akiem Hicks’ future. GM Ryan Piece found a diamond in the rough in Hicks, who signed a two-year deal and will play 2017 in his age 28 season. He set career bests in sacks, tackles, and forced fumbles to go along with an 83.1 Pro Football Focus grade. Hicks can make an argument for being a part of the Bears’ defensive core and a player who could be a key piece on the next competitive team. But what a contract extension would look like for Hicks is up for debate because of the short track record.
  • Pace is probably hoping that cornerback Marcus Cooper is the next free agent find to emerge in a new situation like Hicks did before him. The Bears represent Cooper’s third different team in three seasons, but that didn’t stop the team from giving him a three-year deal. Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly caught up with Cooper and details what the 27-year-old cornerback brings to a unit in search of playmakers.
  • And finally, over at Windy City Gridiron, Jacob Infante writes that time has been kind to the Bears regarding their trade of Brandon Marshall. It helps that the fifth-round pick the Bears received in the deal has turned out to be Adrian Amos, a two-year starter at safety. Because even though Marshall put together a 1,502-yard, 14-touchdowns season in his first year with the New York Jets, his production plummeted in his second season. He is also now on his third team in four seasons after signing with the New York Giants. It’s the latest in a troubling career pattern for Marshall, who has been traded three times despite posting multiple 1,000-yard seasons for the teams that traded him.

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Luis Medina

Luis is the Lead Writer at The Ten-Yard Line, and you can find him on Twitter at @lcm1986.