Tagged in: bears

Dak Prescott undergoes surgery on right thumb as Dallas Cowboys prep for QB’s absence

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had surgery on his right thumb Monday afternoon, and sources continue to believe he will miss six to eight weeks as he goes through rehabilitation.

Given that timeline, Prescott is looking at a return date of Oct. 30 vs. the Chicago Bears at the earliest, but it’s more likely to be Nov. 13 versus the Green Bay Packers in Mike McCarthy’s return to Lambeau Field.

Prescott suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his hand twice hit the hand of linebacker Shaq Barrett. After a screen pass to Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott went to the sideline because he could no longer grip the ball.

After the game, Prescott said, “I was told it was much cleaner than it could have been.” He visited with the team’s hand specialist, Dr. Thomas Diliberti, on Monday and had the surgery soon thereafter. “You know Dak’s personality, I mean, he would’ve had the surgery last night if they would have allowed it,” McCarthy said. “That’s the way he’s wired.”

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The Cowboys now have to figure out how to win without Prescott while he recovers, starting with Sunday’s matchup versus the Cincinnati Bengals with Cooper Rush as their starter. The Cowboys are 5-7 in games without Prescott in his career, although Rush won his first career start last year against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing for 325 yards and two touchdowns.

He completed 7 of 13 passes for 64 yards after replacing Prescott against the Buccaneers.

“I think the biggest thing is especially at the quarterback position because obviously the importance of it, is don’t overreact to it,” McCarthy said. “… Because at the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we’re giving the players the tools to win the game on Sunday. The nice thing about Cooper is Cooper’s been in our system, knows our system inside and out. We won’t be in that position of trying not to do too much or vice versa. Cooper gives us the ability to keep playing.”

McCarthy acknowledged there is an emotional challenge the Cowboys will have to deal with in losing their leader.

In 2020, Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle that knocked him out for the season, and the Cowboys lost their first four games without him.

“Definitely going to be tough, but being in the NFL, that’s all a part of this game,” running back Tony Pollard said. “It’s a 100 percent injury rate so guys get injured, so we just have to make up for it. Everybody has to lock in, continue doing what they’ve been doing and just focus on doing their job the best that they can.”

McCarthy stated the Cowboys are looking to add a third quarterback to the roster with Will Grier on the practice squad and ready to assume the No. 2 role in Prescott’s absence. He has started two games in his career, both with the Carolina Panthers in 2019.

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Chicago Bears acquire New England Patriots WR N’Keal Harry for seventh-round pick

The Chicago Bears have obtained wide receiver N’Keal Harry from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round draft choice, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

Harry, the final selection in the first round of the 2019 draft (32nd overall), never truly panned out in New England after becoming the highest drafted receiver in Bill Belichick’s tenure (2000-present).

He totaled 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns in 36 regular-season matches. The 24-year-old joins a receiver room in Chicago led by Darnell Mooney, who led the Bears in receiving last season, and features plenty of new faces that will compete for playing time.

The Bears signed former Kansas City wideout Byron Pringle to one-year deal worth $4.125 million and used a third-round pick on Velus Jones Jr. Chicago also brought in Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Tajae Sharpe and David Moore to fill out its receiving corps this offseason.

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Harry, who had requested a trade prior to the 2021 season, faced an uphill climb to earn a roster spot this season after New England traded for veteran DeVante Parker.

In addition to Parker, the Patriots have Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne locked into the top spots on their depth chart.

Harry had not been a participant in the team’s voluntary offseason program, and during June’s mandatory minicamp, had been leapfrogged by others who had previously been behind him on the depth chart.

The Patriots, who are tight to the salary cap, receive roughly $1 million in much-needed relief by trading Harry.

In 2019, Harry had been a highly-touted prospect coming out of Arizona State, where he had appeared in 37 career games and totaled 213 receptions for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Patriots had been excited about his physical makeup (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and knack for making contested catches.

While that didn’t manifest itself in New England, Harry now gets a fresh start in Chicago. The Bears still have an estimated $23.037 million in salary cap space to work with, which is the second-most in the NFL.

Chicago starts training camp on July 26 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill.

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Pittsburgh Steelers sign DT Larry Ogunjobi to one-year deal

Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.

The Steelers did not disclose financial terms of the contract.

Ogunjobi now will have played for the Cleveland Browns, Bengals and Steelers, leaving the Baltimore Ravens as the lone AFC North team not to have had him on their roster.

Ogunjobi had also visited the New York Jets since his three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears fell apart after he failed his physical on March 18. The Bears wouldn’t say why he failed the physical, but Ogunjobi did undergo offseason surgery to repair a right foot injury.

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The Steelers had a glaring need for defensive line depth after the retirement of Stephon Tuitt earlier this offseason.

Ogunjobi will be most important in stopping the run, a major focus of the 2022 Steelers after the run defense concluded last in the league a season ago. Ogunjobi had 12 tackles for loss last season in Cincinnati and has 41 in his career.

Ogunjobi has a little history with the Steelers. He was involved in the 2019 on-field altercation between Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and was suspended one game.

Last campaign, Ogunjobi was part of the overhaul that helped the Bengals go from the lowest sack total in the NFL in 2020 to 11th in 2021, registering a career-high seven, which was tied for the third most of any interior defensive lineman, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

His sack total last season was nearly half of his combined total over four seasons with the Browns (14.5).

Ogunjobi, 28, missed most of Cincinnati’s run to Super Bowl LVI after he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the wild-card victory versus the Las Vegas Raiders. Overall, the 2017 third-round draft pick has 21.5 career sacks with 229 tackles and two forced fumbles.

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LB Robert Quinn says he hopes Chicago Bears don’t trade him

Chicago Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn stated he experienced disbelief and shock when Khalil Mack, the other half of Chicago’s dominant pass rushing duo, was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers last month for a 2022 second-round pick (No. 48) and 2023 sixth-round selection.

The Mack trade was the first major move executed by new general manager Ryan Poles before the start of free agency. The Bears eventually parted ways with more than 25 players in March via expired contracts or roster cuts.

Quinn, who set the franchise’s single-season record for sacks in 2021 with 18.5, has been the subject of trade speculation this offseason after the Bears dealt his Pro Bowl teammate for draft capital while starting a massive overhaul of the roster.

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The defensive end, who turns 32 in May, faces insecurity about his own future in Chicago, even though he remains under contract through 2024 after the Bears gave him a five-year, $70 million extension in 2020.

“The only thing I thought of was hopefully my résumé or my production from last year gives me a little weight to keep my foot in the building,” Quinn said Tuesday after being presented with the team’s Brian Piccolo Award.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business. Again, you see Khalil Mack getting traded. Again, it’s just a business. Don’t dwell on it, too crazy.”

Quinn then reiterated his desire to stay with the Bears in 2022.

“I didn’t expect to go anywhere, or want to go anywhere, but again, this is a crazy business,” Quinn said.

At the NFL owners meetings last month, Poles was asked whether considering trading Quinn was an option.

“That hasn’t come up,” Poles said in March.

For now, Quinn remains with the Bears, but he’s not particularly a fan of the phrase most would use for the state of the Bears: a rebuild.

“I don’t think that’s the right way we should phrase it, because people in — the guys in the building are professionals and I think everyone carries themselves to high expectations,” Quinn said.

“I believe, me personally, no player is better than me, and I believe everyone else should carry themselves the same way. So to say, ‘a rebuild’ is, I guess, a funny word. I think it’s just getting guys to believe who they truly are, and perform at their high level of expectations, because everyone’s talented enough, because they’re here. Now you’ve just got to go prove it.”

Speaking ahead of his first draft as general manager, Poles addressed the situation the Bears are currently in with a roster that only has 64 players under contract and a host of needs they hope to address with the NFL draft this week, most notably along the offensive line and at wide receiver and cornerback.

The way Poles describes it, the Bears view the state of the team as a remodeling project, not a rebuild.

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Buffalo Bills to match Chicago Bears’ offer sheet to guard Ryan Bates, GM Brandon Beane says

The Buffalo Bills will match the offer sheet offensive guard Ryan Bates signed with the Chicago Bears last week, general manager Brandon Beane stated Monday at the NFL’s annual owners meetings.

The Bills had until Tuesday to match the offer sheet Bates signed with the Bears.

“We’ve kind of pondered that and worked through it. And obviously we’re tight on the cap, but we are going to bring Ryan back,” Beane said.

The deal is for four years, per a source, and the first two years are fully guaranteed.

“I just found that out. It stinks. But that’s part of the RFA process,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said. “So we’ll adjust and we’ll keep adding players. It’s out of your control. It’s just part of the deal where you put your best foot forward and we did. We came strong, and that’s given back to their team and it’s up to them whether they want to match it. It is what it is. We’ll adjust like everything else.”

Bates, 25, had free-agent visits with the Bears, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots last week, after the Bills offered an original-round tender of $2.4 million. With the Bills, Bates will compete for the starting right guard spot. Rodger Saffold III was signed in free agency and is expected to start at left guard.

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The team also re-signed offensive lineman Ike Boettger to a one-year deal Monday.

Boettger started 10 matches at left guard for the Bills last year before tearing an Achilles versus New England in Week 16. Bates came in for Boettger when he went down with the injury.

“It’s really important for us to be strong up front, both lines, Ryan’s a versatile player,” Beane said. “He can actually play all five spots, but most importantly, he’s been a center, guard he’s filled in, and we thought when he had his opportunity this year, he did a heck of a job starting the last four regular-season [games] and then the two postseason games. It didn’t seem too big for him. You want to keep as many of those key pieces, he knows our system. He obviously knows Josh. RFAs are close to UFAs, but it was a deal that we felt we could match, and we plan to do that.”

The 6-foot-4, 302-pound Bates spent the past three seasons primarily as a backup for the Bills after he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019.

Because of injuries along the offensive line, Bates started the final three games of the regular season and two postseason contests, most of which came at left guard, and played 223 total snaps between left and right guard last season. He also has experience at center.

While injuries led to him taking the field, Bates maintained the starting job for the end of the season and the playoff run because of his performance alongside left tackle Dion Dawkins.

For the season, Bates had a 93% pass block win rate at guard, which hovers around league average, and a 59% run block win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Bills’ offensive line as a unit improved with Bates on the field. Quarterback Josh Allen was not sacked once over the final three games of the season and was sacked twice in the postseason.

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Chicago Bears continue search, interview former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson

The Chicago Bears interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Cleveland Browns executive Glenn Cook for their vacant coach and general manager jobs on Wednesday.

The positions opened Monday when the Bears fired former coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on the heels of a 6-11 season. Pederson led Philadelphia to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship following the 2017 season. He was 42-37-1 with two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020 and getting fired.

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Pederson and Nagy are friends from their time working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Cook has spent six years in Cleveland’s front office. He was the Browns’ assistant director of pro scouting from 2016 to 2019 and their vice president of player personnel the past two seasons, working with executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry.

Cook also served as a scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts (2011 and 2012) and a pro scout with the Green Bay Packers (2012 to 2015).

He was a linebacker at the University of Miami from 2004 to 2008. He also was drafted by baseball’s Chicago Cubs in the 46th round in 2009 and played 34 matches for their rookie league team that year.

The Bears landed at the No. 7 spot in the NFL draft after their season, but that pick belongs to the New York Giants from a trade.

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Chicago Bears fire coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace after 6-11 season

The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on Monday after the team concluded with a 6-11 record this season.

Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year after his first season in 2018, when he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and they reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

He earned praise that season for his offensive wrinkles and humble disposition, but the Bears couldn’t sustain that success over the ensuing three seasons.

They finished 8-8 in 2019 and then again in 2020, when the league’s expanded playoff field put them into the wild-card round. Nagy was never able to duplicate his first season, in part because the quarterback he inherited — Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft — never made the necessary improvement.

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Trubisky departed via free agency last spring, after the Bears traded up to draft quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears were 2-8 in Fields’ 10 starts, and he finished the season ranked last in the league in Total QBR (26.0). In four seasons, the Bears were 34-31 under Nagy in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs.

Monday’s news has been brewing since the end of November, when a local report emerged that Nagy would be fired after the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day game at the Detroit Lions. Nagy stated at the time that he was unaware of his impending firing, but no member of the Bears’ front office or ownership immediately stepped forward to publicly deny the report.

A day later, owner George McCaskey told players during a team meeting that Nagy would not be fired after the match. The Bears beat the Lions 16-14, but it was their only victory amid a 1-8 streak that ran from Week 6 through Week 15.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Nagy said that “it was an honor to serve” as the Bears’ head coach and he thanked the team’s ownership, Pace and his players, coaches and support staff.

Pace also issued a statement Monday evening and also thanked the team’s ownership, Nagy, the team’s players, the football operations staff and the Bears fans.

With the help of former NFL executive Bill Polian leading their search committee, the Bears will cast a wide net for a new GM and head coach. McCaskey indicated that it’s possible the team could even hire a coach before the GM.

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Cousins throws for 2 touchdowns as Vikings beat Bears 17-9

The Minnesota Vikings have little margin for error and plenty of room to improve as they try to secure a playoff spot.

Not that Kirk Cousins needed a reminder. Or, for that matter, coach Mike Zimmer.

Cousins threw two touchdown passes, and Minnesota defeated the struggling and short-handed Chicago Bears 17-9 on Monday night.

The Vikings (7-7), part of a tight pack of teams vying for one of the NFC’s seven playoff spots, were in line for their most lopsided victory before Justin Fields threw a touchdown pass to Jesper Horsted on the game’s final play.

That score aside, Minnesota withstood several scoring threats by Chicago down the stretch coming off a win over Pittsburgh in which the Vikings nearly blew a 29-0 lead.

“I think we have work,” Cousins said. “I think there is a lot to improve upon. We’re playing three really good opponents up ahead. We’re probably going to need everyone, so there is not a lot of room for error and we have to tighten the screws here and play our best football down the stretch.”

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The Vikings’ final three matches are at home versus the Los Angeles Rams and at NFC North champion Green Bay before they host Chicago in the finale. The result in this one was hardly a surprise given the state of the Bears (4-10).

Chicago lost for the eighth time in nine games, and with 14 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, that seemed inevitable. Receiver Allen Robinson was on it, as was the starting secondary.

The health issues also hit the coaching staff, with all three coordinators testing positive for the coronavirus during the week.

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai was cleared to return hours before kickoff. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was not cleared, so Nagy called plays. And special teams coordinator Chris Tabor was out.

Cousins, who struggled last week, didn’t exactly dominate in this one. He was 12 of 24 for 87 yards with an interception and got sacked four times. The two-time Pro Bowler also connected with Justin Jefferson for a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter and threw a 7-yarder to Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the third.

Dalvin Cook ran for 89 yards, after going for 205 versus Pittsburgh in a sooner-than-expected return from a dislocated shoulder.

D.J. Wonnum had a career-high three sacks and the Vikings recovered three fumbles on the way to their second straight win after back-to-back losses.

“It’s not just playing better, it’s getting better,” Zimmer said. “It’s getting better in the run defense, getting better in the pass coverage, it’s getting better in protection. It’s getting better in running the ball. It’s all those things. We’re trying to get better so we can get to that spot where we’ve got to get to.”

For the Bears and their fans, it was another frustrating outing.

Fields threw for 285 yards and ran for 35 in his second game back after missing two with broken ribs. The rookie completed 26 of 39 passes playing behind a line missing both starting tackles, with right tackle Larry Borom on the COVID list and left tackle Jason Peters out with an ankle injury.

Robert Quinn and Akiem Hicks each had two sacks. Quinn has 16 this year, leaving him just shy of Hall of Famer Richard Dent’s franchise record of 17 1/2 in 1984. But Chicago committed nine penalties for 91 yards in a sloppy performance that had fans again booing at times and making their feelings about coach Matt Nagy known, chanting “Fire Nagy!”

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Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson resigned to possibly playing NFL season on one-year deal

Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson sounded resigned to possibly playing the 2021 NFL season on a one-year deal in advance of the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to receive long-term contracts.

“I don’t have any [contract] updates or nothing like that,” Robinson stated on a videoconference call Wednesday.

“That’s not in my control, if I don’t [get a long-term deal]. That being a possibility [of playing on the one-year franchise tag], then, I mean, that is what it is and I’m comfortable with that. Obviously, that’s a possibility. That’s fine. It is what it is. As I said before, my main focus now is continuing to be better and get better.”

The Bears placed the $17.98 million franchise tag tender on Robinson after the two sides were unable to agree to an extension last year. The veteran receiver led the team with 102 catches for 1,250 yards in 2020.

Robinson, 27, skipped the Bears’ voluntary offseason workout program but reported to this week’s mandatory three-day minicamp. Robinson added on Tuesday that he will be on time to training camp when it opens next month.

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“At the end of the day, [the offseason workouts] are optional things, and I think I have a pretty good routine I’ve been working through and progressing in certain areas at the pace that I want,” said Robinson, who focused on creating more muscle endurance in the offseason to be more effective after the catch.

Since joining the Bears in 2018, Robinson has been far and away the team’s top wide receiver.

Despite playing on some of the league’s lower-rated offenses, Robinson has caught 255 passes for 3,151 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

“It was really good [to have Robinson rejoin the team this week],” head coach Matt Nagy said.

“You guys know I have a really good relationship with A-Rob, and anytime you have that quality of player that shows back up and gets out here in the huddle and just that experience that he brings, he just has such a quiet calm and confidence to him that you can see the guys out there throwing him the football and the things he’s doing, he just slides on in.

The one sneaky thing about A-Rob that I think is pretty cool is, No. 1, even if he’s not here, you know he’s working his tail off, and No. 2, he’s always in great shape, and we noticed that.”

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Andy Dalton says Chicago Bears told him starting quarterback job is his

The Chicago Bears apparently won’t have a quarterback competition. That job goes to Andy Dalton.

The former Cincinnati and Dallas QB stated he has been assured the top spot is his and he won’t be competing with veteran Nick Foles.

“They told me I was the starter,” Dalton said Thursday. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I’ve had has been that, so that’s the assurance that I’ve gotten.”

A three-time Pro Bowler, Dalton agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $10 million deal. He can earn an additional $3 million in bonuses.

Dalton’s arrival is a big letdown for fans hoping the Bears would swing a blockbuster trade with Seattle for Russell Wilson. He is aware the reception he is getting is about as warm as a Chicago winter.

“Obviously I know there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m coming in from the outside,” Dalton said. “A lot of people don’t know a ton about me and are gonna get to learn a lot about me while I’m here. That’s all I’m worried about and so, I’m here now.

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“Hopefully everybody gets a chance to see who I am as a player, as a person, see what we’re gonna be able to do with this organization. I’m excited about the opportunity. Obviously there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m not worried about any of that.”

Dalton said he was in “constant contact with everybody” as the Bears tried to obtain Wilson from the Seahawks.

He was thrilled when it became clear there would be no trade, because he wanted to come to Chicago.

“When it wasn’t happening and this worked out for both of us to come together and for me to be a part of this team, I was ecstatic because I was hoping that was gonna be the case,” he said. “I knew everything that was going on.”

Dalton has thrown for 33,764 yards, 218 touchdowns and 126 interceptions over nine seasons with Cincinnati and one with Dallas. He led the Bengals to the playoffs his first five seasons after they drafted him out of TCU in the second round in 2011, but never won a postseason game.

He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and in 2014 and 2016. He set several Bengals passing records, but in more recent years, the offensive line deteriorated. So did the cast around him. His results suffered, too, and the Bengals released him in late April after drafting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick.

Dalton then signed with Dallas as a backup in early May. He wound up playing in 11 games and made nine starts with Dak Prescott suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.

The Cowboys concluded 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

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