Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

–The Bears’ initial idea is for second-round pick James Daniels to come in and learn guard, then “cross-train” at center, according to general manager Ryan Pace.

The thought is Cody Whitehair will continue at center for now.

However, it’s not written in stone. What the Bears’ approach will be is to find the five best offensive linemen and put them on the field, then sort out the positions.

“In the NFL, teams usually stress as an offensive man if you’re a center you better be able to play both guards, and if you’re a guard you better be able to play both tackles and center,” Daniels said.

–Daniels actually played against Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky when he was a sophomore in high school and Trubisky was a senior. It was a playoff game.

“He tore us apart,” Daniels said. “He had like 500 total yards against us and we lost like 42-35. When he went to college I followed him because it was always nice to see high school players you played against do well in college. And when he got drafted by the Bears last year, I was excited for him because he really tore my high school team apart.”

And now that they’re teammates?

“I’m real excited. It’s crazy,” Daniels said. “If you would have asked me six years ago if I’d be blocking for him, I’d say you’re lying. It means a lot to me.”

–Miller’s status as a walk-on who won his scholarship through hard work and eventually excelled has earned him a reputation as a grinder.

It’s nothing new for him. He lives the “Memphis grind.”

“That Memphis grind is like one of a kind,” Miller said via conference call from Memphis. “This area, there’s not a lot going on around here. People have got to work for everything they’ve got. Nobody is put over anybody as far as status.

“In order to get respect, you’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to grind for it.”

–It’s easy to see why Miller has a reputation for being able to use leverage and be physical if he needs to be in order to get open. He did 22 reps in the bench press at the Combine. That’s one more than new Bears center James Daniels did.

–While drafting Miller seems to put Kevin White’s future in question, the Bears would have to take a long, hard look at cutting their 2015 first-round pick. It would cost them $5.27 million of dead cap space this season.

The team isn’t expected to pick up a fifth-year option on White’s contract, and for good reason. His salary in 2019 would be for $13.924 million.

–Miller had no problem comparing his style to other NFL receivers, even if it was sure to cause some raised eyebrows.

“Most would compare me to Antonio Brown or a Steve Smith-like receiver, but I want to be my own guy,” Miller said. “I’m Anthony Miller at the end of the day. I don’t want to be compared to anyone.”

Actually, Brown and Smith initially received even less respect than Miller. Brown was a 195th pick in the draft and Smith went in Round 3.

–Fourth-round draft pick Joel Iyiegbuniwe, known as “Iggy,” actually was born in the Chicago area even though he moved to Bowling Green as a youth. He lived in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook. It was about his only contact with Chicago as he was a bit stunned to be drafted by the Bears and said they hadn’t displayed the least bit of interest in him.

Although fifth-rounder Bilal Nichols of Delaware also said he hadn’t received much interest from the Bears, the 6-foot-4, 306-pound defensive tackle had an inside connection to his new team.

Head coach Matt Nagy graduated from Delaware and new offensive assistant Brian Ginn was the coach who recruited Nichols at Delaware.

“Coach Ginn, he’s an awesome guy,” Nichols said. “He was one of the guys that helped recruit me at Delaware. Unbelievable guy, great guy.”

–Nichols finished his college career playing both in the 3-4 and 4-3.

“I feel like it’s very key that defensive lineman are able to play both schemes,” Nichols said.

Of course, with the Bears it will be the 3-4.

“With the three-man front I really just like the fact that you are putting a lot of pressure on your defensive linemen to make plays and stop the run,” Nichols said. “That’s something that I loved about it. We were the ones up front that had to shut everything down.

“I’m still growing every day. Still trying to grow more fluent as a pass rusher and finishing my rushes.”

–Fitts has questions about his injury past to overcome. Fitts had a foot ligament tear in 2016 in the second game and missed the rest of the season. Last season, he suffered shoulder and ankle sprains that limited his effectiveness and playing time.

“It was just a run of bad luck and I think I got it all out of the way,” Fitts said.

Fitts called the Lisfranc tear in his right foot a slight one and he was completely healthy three months later. Last year’s injuries were more frustrating.

“I think it definitely made me into a stronger man and I’m healthy now and I’m excited to play for the Bears.”

–If there is a question about Fitts besides health, it’s his fit. He was a 4-3 end and has to get accustomed to pass coverage and rushing from a standup position in the 3-4.

“In Utah’s scheme we were a four-down front but on almost every blitz we’re dropping, so I felt really comfortable with dropping,” Fitts said. “And then since the season ended I’ve been doing pretty much non-stop linebacker drills and becoming a lot more comfortable with that.

“I feel like that’s a perfect position for me right now.”

–Georgia wide receiver Javon Wims is making a career of being overlooked.

The Bears took Wims in the last round.

When Wims came out of high school, he had played only one year of football and didn’t have sufficient grades for Division I. He had one offer, from NAIA Belhaven, and went there. He left for Hinds Junior College after a year, then earned a scholarship to Georgia.

Wims helped lead the Bulldogs to the national title game last year with team highs of 45 catches, 720 yards and nine touchdowns.

“He’s played in a lot of big games and he’s made big plays at big moments,” Pace said. “So I can just say we were happy when he was there.”




College Fans, Beware The Man in the Bottle.