It’s safe to say that Dallas Cowboys prized rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott had an impressive year running between the tackles:
During his impressive rookie year, Ezekiel Elliott ran for more yards between the tackles than all but one other HB pic.twitter.com/ggyNK4gD2z
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 2, 2017
However, Elliott wasn’t the best as that distinction went to Chicago Bears stud rookie Jordan Howard, who gained a league-high 966 yards between the tackles in 2016. Howard gained a total of 1,313 yards as a rookie fifth-round pick who was slotted as a third-string back behind Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey to start to season. So to see Howard be among the top three in this category and sharing a leaderboard with Elliott and Le’Veon Bell speaks volumes of how productive he was – especially against defenses gearing up to stop him.
- Perhaps things will open up more for Howard in his second year. One way that can happen is if something positive comes out of the Bears’ unique quarterback situation. While all signs point to Trubisky being the quarterback of the future, Glennon is taking advantage of his time in the spotlight and seems to be emerging as a leader. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that this dynamic is nothing like what unfolded with the Philadelphia Eagles after they signed Sam Bradford, then drafted Carson Wentz with the second overall pick. Things could change over time, but not only is Glennon talking the talk about 2017 being his year, he is also walking the walk during OTAs.
- It couldn’t hurt to add some talent at wide receiver for Glennon – or whoever is throwing the pigskin for the Bears in the year to come. The Chiefs surprisingly released Jeremy Maclin on Friday, two years into a five-year deal and one year after producing a 1,000-yard receiving season. And while nothing has tied the Bears to Maclin, it will be worth keeping an eye on knowing the team’s needs and ample salary cap room.
- Over at The Athletic, Dan Durkin writes about the negative impact of Cameron Meredith’s thumb injury and notes that the Bears have lost more games due to injury (248) in John Fox’s two years with the team than any other NFL outfit. This is definitely a stat you don’t want to lead the league in. As for the injury itself, it stings knowing that Meredith still has developing to do as the Bears’ top receiving target (especially with a new quarterback in tow) and the offseason reps that would have helped with his growth will now be missed.
- Lamarr Houston might always be known as the player who tore his ACL celebrating a sack in a blowout road loss to the New England Patriots, but credit the veteran outside linebacker for fighting the good fight in his journey back from a second torn ACL. Houston hasn’t been on the field enough to make good on a free agent deal he signed in 2014, as he has played in just 26 of the team’s last 48 games over the last three seasons. Over at the Sun-Times, Patrick Finley writes about Houston’s journey in his second recovery from an ACL injury. Houston seems appreciative of the opportunity at hand, especially knowing that his year’s salary isn’t guaranteed this year – and wasn’t in 2016, either. While things have been tough for him personally and the team as a whole, Houston has been complimentary of Bears GM Ryan Pace and believes the team is headed in the right direction.
- A new helmet is debuting at mini-camps around the NFL. Teams around the league will be trying out the VICIS Zero 1, a helmet the league and players’ union hopes will cut down on potential head trauma. It’s a moment 3-1/2 years in the making, and while football has inherent dangers regarding head injuries, any progress in this area is welcome.
- So Maybe Mike Vick isn’t retiring after all. Vick was all set to call it a career earlier in the offseason, but one last chance has emerged. The former Pro Bowl quarterback (and the most unstoppable video game player in the history of gaming) will play a dual role as a player and adviser in the struggling American Flag Football League. Vick is one of the ex-NFL players who will play in a 7-on-7 test drive in San Jose, which strangely has my attention.