Losing Jerrell Freeman is going to be awfully damaging to a defense that played pretty well against a talented Falcons offense (well, save for a pair of big plays allowed to Austin Hooper).
Regarding the Bears losing Jerrell Freeman. pic.twitter.com/CNjWf4hjke
— Sean Wagner-McGough (@seanjwagner) September 12, 2017
Freeman was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, and he might not make it back this season. It was announced Freeman suffered a torn pectoral muscle that will require surgery, and head coach John Fox said he was unsure whether or not his stud inside linebacker would return later in the season. Freeman missed four games in 2016 because of a PED suspension, but was one of the best linebackers in the game when he was on the field.
The Bears signed Freeman and Danny Trevathan as free agents in 2016 to tighten up the middle of the defense, but what should have been a dynamic linebacker tandem hasn’t been on the field together often enough to be the difference-makers they were brought in to be because of injuries.
- And yet, the show goes on and second-year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is ready to fill in, writes Zack Pearson of Scout.com’s Bear Report. Starting in place of a starting inside linebacker should feel familiar for Kwiatkoski, who performed admirably in place of Freeman and Trevathan in the middle in 2016. Kwiatkoski didn’t debut until Week 3 against the Cowboys last year, a season in which he started seven of the 14 games he appeared in. He played just 42.5 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last year, but that was mostly because of low usage in the first half of the season. Of the 457 snaps Kwiatkoski played last year, 375 came during the last six weeks of the season – a stretch in which he played in more than 98 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
- Over at Pro Football Weekly, Hub Arkush writes that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has the right perspective on Kevin White’s injury. Loggains said he’s talked to White daily since the injury, adding that he hurts for White because of how hard he worked to get back into playing shape and how far he has come as a player. “You know how important it is,” Loggains said. “Just being heartbroken because he feels like being hurt, you let down the team, you’re not out there with your teammates in the most critical situation when they need you.”
- The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer writes about White’s cruel and twisted journey in the NFL, which simply hasn’t yielded the sort of playing time necessary to scratch the surface of his potential. I can appreciate White’s perspective on this:
I ask why me, but I know God has a plan much bigger than what I want. Im thankful for everyone that's supporting me 🙏🏽
— Kevin White (@mrkevinwhite) September 11, 2017
- No team needs receiver help like the Bears, who are without two starters (White, Cameron Meredith) and could still be without a third potential starter in Markus Wheaton. Enter Tanner Gentry, who was elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Tuesday after the team put White on injured reserve. CSN Chicago’s JJ Stankevitz writes that Gentry still has much to learn, but he is eager to pick it all up and the Bears seem intent on grooming him to work his way into the lineup. For what it’s worth, quarterback Mike Glennon threw just one pass beyond 20 yards in Sunday’s loss … and it fell incomplete in the end zone and was intended for running back Tarik Cohen.
- Even though his offensive coordinator didn’t believe he was ready to take on a full burden of responsibility, Cohen provided a necessary spark to the Bears offense on Sunday. In Dan Durkin’s film study over at The Athletic, he shows how the “Joker back” was successful in a variety of ways out of the backfield as a rusher, pass catcher, and lined up in the slot as a receiver. He’ll need to be able to run between the tackles with success sooner, rather than later, but there isn’t much to knock right now regarding a player as electrifying as Cohen.
- And who knows, maybe that full burden is coming soon. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains says Cohen might be the team’s hardest practice player, adding: “He loves football and works his tail off.”
- If that full load comes to fruition, the hundreds of thousands who flocked to pick him up on their fantasy football waiver-wire will be ever-so thankful. ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson writes Cohen’s Week 1 performance had fantasy owners second-guessing themselves. In ESPN’s PPR leagues, Cohen’s 25.3 points were the second most from a running back last week.
- Naturally, Cohen is feeling the love:
#Bears RB Tarik Cohen on what he's heard most from fans: "I had you on the bench. I should have started you. I'm a believer now."
— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) September 13, 2017
- Brad Biggs of the Tribune has full details of Akiem Hicks’ big-money contract extension, which includes $15.5 million this year. One day after receiving a new contract, Hicks went out and showed a little return on investment with two sacks and a high grade from Pro Football Focus. He’ll need to keep that up if the Bears are going to be competitive again against the Buccaneers.
- When you turn on Sunday’s games between the Bears and Bucs, you’ll hear a familiar voice on FOX-TV. Joe Lucia of AwfulAnnouncing.com has the NFL’s Week 2 broadcasting schedule, which will feature Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, and Shannon Spake on the call from Raymond James Stadium. If you’re curious, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are on the call for Sunday’s Cowboys-Broncos game, while Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will be behind the mics for the Patriots’ game against the Saints.
- John Fox took a step into the past when discussing Brian Urlacher’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Urlacher, who played against numerous Fox teams during his 13-year career, received Fox’s seal of approval as “the best in the business” during his era. Unfortunately, Fox doesn’t have a vote in the matter. Fox described Urlacher as a dominant player who you couldn’t get away from because he played sideline-to-sideline, was stout against the run, and a stud when playing the pass. No arguments here.