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Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 4:00 PM
— Chicago Bears coach John Fox spoke with reporters in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Here are five things he had to say about his team’s matchup with the Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
1. He is happy to have Mike Nugent on his roster.
The Bears signed the former Bengals kicker this week after putting Cairo Santos on injured reserve.
The Centerville native and former Ohio State star was a free agent after spending some time earlier this year with the Giants and Cowboys.
“We’re fortunate he was out there,” Fox said. “I’ve been impressed. We had him in for a workout and just completed our practice today. I thought he had a good day so we’re excited and we feel fortunate to have him.”
Marvin Lewis on seeing Mike Nugent this week as a member of the Bears 🐻 pic.twitter.com/ZYddnpDtmD— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) December 6, 2017
2. Tarik Cohen is a unique weapon.
A rookie from North Carolina A&T, Cohen leads the Bears with 39 catch for 306 yards. He has also rushed for 267 yards and has a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown.
A 5-foot-6, he reminds Fox of another multitalented running back who was vertically challenged: Darren Sproles.
“He’s a unique young man as far as a skillset and as a guy, too. He’s well respected on our team and probably by most of our opponents.”
3. The Bears running game presents a problem for Cincinnati.
OK, Fox did not actually put it that way — that would sound too much like bulletin board material — but he has good reason to feel good about where this unit stands entering the last quarter of the season.
Chicago is tied for 12th in the NFL in rushing yards per game while the Bengals defense is 28th.
“I think it’s important,” Fox said. “Cincinnati’s defensive front is obviously a very talented group, so that will be tough. A lot of time the run game is based on matchups and who you have available and what they’re about. We jus know this will be a big challenge for us this Sunday.”
4. That running game helps keep pressure off Mitch Trubisky.
“I think our philosophy is it starts up front,” Fox continued. “The ability to run the ball might be a quarterback’s best friend, and we have a rookie quarterback starting the last eight games. This will be his ninth.”
That would be Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in the draft in April out of North Carolina.
He enters the week with a quarterback rating of 74.6, good for 29th in the league this season.
Iloka and Smith-Schuster Should be playing this week and Gronkowski should be out for the season https://t.co/ouD1r5YFxC— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) December 6, 2017
5. Where they are in the standings shouldn’t matter as far as motivation.
While the Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention, the Bengals are two games back with four to play and in need of a lot of help to get in, but going out on a high note should be a focus for both regardless.
“This part of the season is a challenge every year, good or bad,” Fox said. “People remember what you do in December whether you’re right in the thick of things or not. I always call it, ‘Finish strong, not wrong.’
“Our guys understand that and I’m sure (Coach Marvin Lewis’) Bengals do as well. These guys have a lot of pride and they’re professionals. I’m sure they’re hard at work just like we are.”
NFL overturns suspension for Bengals safety Iloka https://t.co/fZ5XH0w8lE— Dayton Daily News (@daytondailynews) December 6, 2017
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 8:15 PM
UPDATE, 8:36 p.m.
The Cleveland Browns selected Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick after taking Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall.
The New York Giants took Penn State running back Saquon Barkley second, and the New York Jets picked USC quarterback Sam Darnold third.
This is the second time in three years an Ohio State player has gone in the top four picks after San Diego took Joey Bosa third in 2016.
The Cleveland Browns selected Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first pick in the NFL Draft tonight.
The Browns also own the fourth pick in the draft and will be back on the clock in about an half hour.
This is the third time since 2012 the Browns have drafted a quarterback in the first round. They selected Johnny Manziel 22nd overall in 2014 and Brandon Weeden 22nd overall in 2012. The team picked DeShone Kizer in the second round last year and took Cody Kessler in the third round in 2016.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:52 AM
— The 83rd NFL draft is this week in Arlington, Texas.
Here is what you need to know before the league’s annual talent grab kicks off:
For the first time, the entire draft will be available on broadcast television as Fox will simulcast the NFL Network’s coverage of rounds 1-3 on its broadcast channel. ABC will simulcast ESPN’s coverage of rounds 4-7.
Along with the traditional broadcast on ESPN, the College GameDay crew will provide a “college-themed viewing option of round one” on ESPN2.
The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday night and the rest of the draft will be held Saturday.
Miami's Heath Harding: 'I'm a grimy player' who can get the job done https://t.co/FzPGSH4e7a— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 19, 2018
2. Quarterbacks will dominate the storylines even more than usual.
Josh Allen of Wyoming, Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Lamar Jackson of Louisville are all in the mix to be taken in the first round.
The last time five quarterbacks were taken in the first round was 1999, when the Browns took Tim Couch out of Kentucky with the No. 1 pick and the Bengals selected Akili Smith out of Oregon two picks later.
The most QBs taken in one draft is six (1983).
3. The Cleveland Browns will pick first for the second year in a row.
Last year, they went with Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.
This time they are expected to pick a quarterback, though they could go with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
The Browns pick again at No. 4, so they could end up with the PSU star and their quarterback of the future.
4. The Cincinnati Bengals pick 21st.
The Bengals traded down from the 12th slot to get offensive lineman Cordy Glenn from the Bills.
That helped address a glaring need in Cincinnati, and team officials say it makes picking addressing a need and picking the best player available easier rather than having to choose one or the other.
RELATED: 7-round mock draft
They might go for another offensive tackle, address the overall team speed on defense or perhaps take a center.
5. Ohio State will be heavily involved again.
Eleven Buckeyes were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine with Denzel Ward, Billy Price and Sam Hubbard considered the best available prospects.
Ward and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer are scheduled to be at the draft.
If Ward chosen in the first round, Ohio State would become the first school in the common draft era (since 1967) to have five defensive backs selected in the first round over a three-year span.
One of the potential storylines to watch Saturday: Will anyone take a flier on J.T. Barrett?Follow @marcushartman
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 10:02 AM
— Hey there, how’s your NFL draft day going so far?
Good, I hope.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was dominating the morning news cycle as I sat down to write this, and there were two pretty good reasons:
First, he totally nailed recreating a classic Brett Favre draft day photo.
“There are those people who are in your corner no matter what, you can’t do any wrong, even when you do wrong. And then there are those people that no matter what you do they’re going to dislike you and that’s not going to change.” - Brett Favre #DraftEve #MMO pic.twitter.com/6bCE9SxqI6— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) April 26, 2018
Second, he apparently could be the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Browns continue to keep the decision on their No. 1 pick a secret, but there is a mounting belief from HCs and GMs around the league that Cleveland will take Baker Mayfield.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 26, 2018
This is a fascinating development because I like Mayfield a lot, and I think he could be a really good NFL quarterback.
He’s got that chutzpah that likely will either cause him to soar once he hits the league or crash and burn spectacularly.
That attitude could be good for a Browns franchise that lacks swagger outside of its live-dog mascot, but taking him No. 1 kind of works against conventional draft wisdom.
Of course, that might not be a bad thing, especially for a franchise that has drafted so poorly.
Mayfield has the ability to star in the NFL, but he might be the least talented of the top five quarterbacks in this draft, too.
That’s notable because teams typically use their high first-round picks to maximize raw talent on their roster.
Then again, there is risk involved in taking any of the five quarterbacks, so maybe getting the guy with the best intangibles makes sense…
Ohio State NFL draft preview: 5 things to know https://t.co/W1x5ATmhZl— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 26, 2018
As the Cincinnati Bengals season circled the drain in December, I began hoping Mayfield would be the guy their next coach would want to replace Andy Dalton.
Of course, they somehow righted the ship late in the season, inexplicably retained Marvin Lewis as head coach and committed to keeping Jon Kitna 2.0 as the starter so all that is out the window.
I still believe — even with Dalton the definite starter this season — Lamar Jackson would be the best pick they could make at No. 21. That would allow them to develop him slowly until he becomes either Dalton’s replacement or a very valuable backup/trade chip.
I don’t pay a lot of attention to mock drafts, but I have seen more than one pairing Arkansas center Frank Ragnow with the Bengals at No. 21.
That would be a very strong pick as far as need and value in that slot…
#Bengals QB Andy Dalton played babysitter Tuesday night as the @ajdfoundation held its annual "Date Night' event Tuesday night.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) April 25, 2018
See pictures from the event:https://t.co/o0IZs8ayhF pic.twitter.com/jxAjYdpGwt
Meanwhile, the NBA playoffs continue to provide nightly entertainment.
LeBron James is still doing everything he can to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers into round two.
He came up with decisive plays on both ends of the floor in the last 30 seconds last night, blocking* a Victor Oladipo layup then canning the game-winning 3-pointer.
(*It might have been goal tending, but I am guessing LeBron shoots a 3 at the end either way so I’m not sure it matters.)
Later in the evening, the Rockets eliminated the Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook scored 45 points to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder alive in their series against Utah.
The Jazz blew a 25-point lead but still are on top in the series 3-2.
Right now all four second-round matchups look pretty intriguing, assuming the Raptors and Cavs take care of business…
College basketball also made news yesterday with the publishing of a report suggesting various reforms the NCAA should institute.
Perhaps I should have gotten more into the things that were left out, but I knew all the writers out there who are smarter and more progressive than I am and thus hate everything about the NCAA would cover compensation and whatnot, so I didn’t feel the need.
In an interview with The Athletic, committee chair Condoleezza Rice answered concerns about the current compensation model pretty well.
“What we wanted to say is there is a value proposition at the heart of the collegiate model that is different from the professional model. That value proposition is, you get to play. You get to hone your sport. You get the best coaching. You get nutrition. You get all of those things and most importantly, you get a college degree, which by the way will give you earning potential a million dollars over a non-college graduate over your lifetime; will give you contacts and mentoring that will serve you well the rest of your life; and, oh by the way, you get it for free as opposed to the kid down the hall who’s taking down loans and working 20 hours a week to get what you can get.”
Defending just about any aspect of the status quo on social media is frowned upon, but that is no excuse for letting so many ignore the many good things that come with the current system (despite its flaws).
If the whole system were nuked and turned into another minor league, I think a lot of people would be disappointed with the result and more athletes (not to mention fans and local economies) would be worse off than would see real benefits, so I applaud Rice for taking this stance and for spelling out those benefits that are often overlooked...
NCAA can’t ‘fix’ college basketball without major help from NBA https://t.co/BHaTjNHy2m— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 25, 2018
Continuing to let Brandon Finnegan work through things in the major leagues continues to hurt the Reds.
Manager Jim Riggleman might have pulled him too soon in a 5-4 loss to the Braves last night, but it’s hard to blame him for having little trust in the hittable lefty.
After missing almost all of last year because of multiple injuries, Finnegan pitched only 5.1 inning in spring training and hasn’t been very good in any of his starts since the regular season began.
Otherwise, his presence in the rotation makes complete sense.
Anyway, now that the offense is putting up enough runs to provide the bullpen with leads to blow, it feels like the season has finally started for the Reds…
If you’re wondering about starting pitching in Triple-A, Robert Stephenson is 1-2 with a 2.95 ERA in four starts. He has struck out 20 in 21.1 innings, but he has also walked 17.
Justin Nicolino, a late-spring acquisition, is 1-1 with a 3.0 ERA while Jose Lopez and Jackson Stephens both have ERAs over 5.0…
Finally here’s a bit of breaking news this morning: Dunbar officials have admitted they messed up in their fight to get back into the boys’ basketball tournament in March.
All that means is the Wolverines shouldn’t have been allowed to play in a sectional final game they won over Fenwick, fellow-DPS member Thurgood Marshall got a raw deal by not being allowed to play that game and DPS wasted public money fighting the OHSAA in court.
Oh, and Dunbar is banned from next year’s tournament, too.
What a disgrace.
Obviously the players who were involved in the fight that started all this in January bear some blame, but this is another example of adults letting them down.
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 1:11 PM
— Fenwick High School’s boys basketball season ended with a 27-26 loss to Dunbar in a Division II sectional final March 7.
Nothing is going to change that.
»RELATED: DPS admits it was wrong in Dunbar fight
» THE GAME: Dunbar 27, Fenwick 26
»RELATED: Step-by-step look at Dunbar case
Dunbar was scheduled to play Fenwick, then the Ohio High School Athletic Association replaced the Wolverines with Thurgood Marshall in the tournament because of an ineligible player. Dayton Public Schools went to court and got Dunbar reinstated while Fenwick dealt with all the uncertainty from a distance.
On Thursday, DPS superintendent Elizabeth Lolli made a public apology to Fenwick, Thurgood Marshall and the OHSAA after new evidence showed that Dunbar did indeed use an ineligible player in a postseason game and should not have been allowed to play Fenwick.
Fenwick athletic director Michael Coleman issued the following statement in response: