<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sportshttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.pngNBC Chicagohttp://www.nbcchicago.comen-usTue, 26 Jul 2016 03:36:52 -0500Tue, 26 Jul 2016 03:36:52 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Chapman Issues Statement on Domestic Violence Allegations]]>Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:44:47 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*122/GettyImages-531642212.jpg

The Chicago Cubs acquired pitcher Aroldis Chapman in a trade with the New York Yankees on Monday afternoon, but with concerns about domestic violence allegations swirling around the hurler, both he and the team issued statements about the situation.

Here is what Chapman had to say:

"I want to thank the New York Yankees for trusting and supporting me, and I wish nothing but the best for the Yankees organization and my former teammates. I am excited about today's trade and look forward to joining the Chicago Cubs and meeting my new teammates. It's a privilege to wear the Cubs uniform and to play for the fans of Chicago.

"As you know, earlier this year I accepted and served a 30-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions of October 30, 2015. I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry. Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. My girlfriend and I have worked hard to strengthen our relationship, to raise our daughter together, and would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past. Out of respect for my family, I will not comment any further on this matter.

"I cannot wait to take the mound at Wrigley Field and look forward to helping my teammates deliver a championship to Chicago."

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts also issued a statement, emphasizing that team leaders had met with Chapman to discuss their expectations for his behavior as a member of the franchise:

"Obviously, we are aware of the circumstances surrounding Aroldis Chapman's suspension earlier this season. We are also aware that he cooperated fully with the league investigation and takes responsibility for his actions.

"Today, prior to completing the trade, Theo, Jed and I spoke with Aroldis. I shared with him the high expectations we set for our players and staff both on and off the field. Aroldis indicated he is comfortable with meeting those expectations."

"Finally, my family, this team and Major League Baseball take the issue of domestic violence very seriously and support efforts to reduce domestic violence through education, awareness and intervention."

In late October, Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend at the couple's home, and was also accused of firing a gun multiple times inside a garage. Prosecutors elected not to press charges after contradictions emerged in testimony, and after Chapman's girlfriend expressed a desire not to press charges.

Under the league's new domestic violence policy, Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Chapman for the first 30 games of the 2016 season, reaching a settlement with the pitcher and avoiding a contentious battle with the MLB Players' Association.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bulls in Running for 2017 All-Star Game: Report]]>Mon, 25 Jul 2016 11:21:29 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NBA+All-Star.png

After the NBA removed the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, the city of New Orleans emerged quickly as a frontrunner to host the event, but another city could be making a quiet run at hosting duties.

That city is Chicago, and according to a new report, the league is considering using the United Center to host the annual game next February.

Here is what K.C. Johnson had to say about the potential move by the Bulls to host the game:

“Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and son Michael, the team’s president and chief operating officer, have stated their lack of desire to host the game at the United Center out of respect for season ticket holders, who mostly get displaced when the league takes over the venue.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken a proactive approach to landing premier sports events such as the NFL Draft, and the Reinsdorfs have a strong personal and professional relationship with Emanuel.”

The city of Chicago has also landed several other high-profile events, including Copa America soccer games, America’s Cup yachting events, and the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, which will also be held at the United Center and will be hosted by the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Bulls have not hosted an All-Star Game since the 1987-88 season, when Michael Jordan won the Slam Dunk Contest and All-Star Game MVP honors at the old Chicago Stadium.

The 2017 All-Star Game was removed from Charlotte after the league objected to North Carolina’s new laws removing legal protections from the LGBT community in the state. Commissioner Adam Silver has said that Charlotte could get the game back in 2019 if North Carolina lawmakers rescind or restructure the law, but that status is still up in the air.

Brooklyn is another potential landing spot for the relocated game, according to Johnson, and even if Chicago doesn’t get the 2017 edition, they could still be open to hosting again in the future.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Acquire Aroldis Chapman From Yankees]]>Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:14:51 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs6.png

The Chicago Cubs have made another huge splash on the trade market one week ahead of the MLB trade deadline, acquiring Aroldis Chapman in a massive swap with the New York Yankees.

The deal was confirmed by the team Monday afternoon. 

Chapman, who recently threw a 105 MPH fastball and routinely tops 100 MPH on the radar gun, has a 1.93 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 31 innings of work this season.

Long thought of as one of the best closers in baseball, Chapman has had a strong season for the Yankees this year, with 20 saves as he served as a major piece of the team’s bullpen.

In exchange, the Yankees will get a good crop of prospects from the Cubs, including highly touted shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres.

A top-50 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America and MLB.com, Torres is batting .275 with nine home runs and 47 RBI for the Class-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans this season, and the 19-year old has also stolen 19 bases on the season.

The Yankees will also get back pitcher Adam Warren, whom they traded to Chicago during the 2015 offseason in a swap that sent Starlin Castro to the Big Apple. Warren has pitched both as a starter and out of the bullpen for the Cubs, but has struggled as he racked up a 5.91 ERA with seven home runs allowed in just 35 innings of work.

The Cubs also traded away another prospect, as Billy McKinney is reportedly part of the deal. McKinney dealt with a knee issue that ended his 2015 season prematurely, and he's struggled in 2016, hitting just one home run and registering a .252 batting average in 298 at-bats so far this season at Double-A West Tennessee.

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<![CDATA[Chris Sale Suspended for 'Clubhouse Incident']]>Sun, 24 Jul 2016 12:05:35 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sox+chris+sale.jpg

The White Sox announced Sunday that pitcher Chris Sale will be suspended for five games following a 'clubhouse incident' prior to Saturday's game against the Detroit Tigers.

Sale will be suspended for five days, according to the team. 

"Chris has been suspended for violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment," White Sox senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. "While we all appreciate Chris’ talent and passion, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to express concerns about team rules and organizational expectations."

The team announced less than an hour before the game was scheduled to start that Sale was scratched.

“Chris Sale has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start and sent home from the ballpark by the White Sox due to a clubhouse incident before the game," Hahn said in the statement. 

"The incident, which was non-physical in nature, currently is under further investigation by the club."

According to multiple reports, the incident was a disagreement, not between Sale and one of his teammates, but rather between the star pitcher and a member of team management.

The argument reportedly began over the jerseys the team was supposed to wear Saturday, according to several reports. 

"Chris Sale incident stemmed at least in part from his protest to use of throwback jerseys, sources confirm," Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeted.

"Sale asked that they not wear (throwbacks) on his day because they are uncomfortable. Things escalated when they wouldn't relent," Ken Rosenthal added.

The team was scheduled to wear the 1976 throwback edition jerseys, a blue shirt with a collar, according to a release from the White Sox to preview Saturday's game. Sale reportedly cut up his own and possibly other team members' jerseys during the argument, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Sox players could be seen during Saturday's broadcast of the game wearing the 1983 throwback jerseys they were scheduled to wear Sunday. 

The argument may have stemmed from Sale's frustrations over rumors and discussions that he may be traded, a source told NBC Chicago, with much of the anger directed at the team's handling of the trade speculation involving him. 

This wouldn't be the first time that Sale has had a conflict with a member of management this year. During spring training when Adam LaRoche abruptly retired due to the team's insistence that he stop bringing his son into the clubhouse, Sale reportedly got into a heated argument with team president Kenny Williams.

Sale was scheduled to start Saturday, has a 14-3 record this season, and was the starting pitcher for the American League club during the MLB All-Star Game earlier this month.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[White Sox Send Chris Sale Home for 'Clubhouse Incident']]>Sun, 24 Jul 2016 12:00:38 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Chris+Sale+White+Sox1.jpg

The White Sox scratched pitcher Chris Sale less than an hour before Saturday's game against the Detroit Tigers for a "clubhouse incident."

“Chris Sale has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start and sent home from the ballpark by the White Sox due to a clubhouse incident before the game," White Sox senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn said in the statement. 

"The incident, which was non-physical in nature, currently is under further investigation by the club."

According to multiple reports, the incident was a disagreement, not between Sale and one of his teammates, but rather between the star pitcher and a member of team management.

The argument reportedly began over the jerseys the team was supposed to wear Saturday, according to several reports. 

"Chris Sale incident stemmed at least in part from his protest to use of throwback jerseys, sources confirm," Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeted.

"Sale asked that they not wear (throwbacks) on his day because they are uncomfortable. Things escalated when they wouldn't relent," Ken Rosenthal added.

The team was scheduled to wear the 1976 throwback edition jerseys, a blue shirt with a collar, according to a release from the White Sox to preview Saturday's game. Sale reportedly cut up his own and possibly other team members' jerseys during the argument, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Sox players could be seen during Saturday's broadcast of the game wearing the 1983 throwback jerseys they were scheduled to wear Sunday. 

The argument may have stemmed from Sale's frustrations over rumors and discussions that he may be traded, a source told NBC Chicago, with much of the anger directed at the team's handling of the trade speculation involving him. 

This wouldn't be the first time that Sale has had a conflict with a member of management this year. During spring training when Adam LaRoche abruptly retired due to the team's insistence that he stop bringing his son into the clubhouse, Sale reportedly got into a heated argument with team president Kenny Williams.

Sale was scheduled to start Saturday, has a 14-3 record this season, and was the starting pitcher for the American League club during the MLB All-Star Game earlier this month.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dexter Fowler Returns to Cubs' Lineup Friday Night]]>Fri, 22 Jul 2016 18:22:12 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-491740082.jpg

The Chicago Cubs will get a big boost to their lineup on Friday night as outfielder Dexter Fowler has been activated from the 15-day disabled list.

Fowler, who was dealing with a hamstring injury, will bat lead-off and play center field for the Cubs, who are taking on the lowly Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The Cubs also made another roster move on Friday as they officially added reliever Mike Montgomery to their 25-man roster. The team acquired Montgomery in a trade on Wednesday afternoon that sent touted prospect Dan Vogelbach to the Seattle Mariners.

To make room for the two players, the Cubs optioned a pair of players to Triple-A Iowa. Outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. will head to Des Moines, as will relief pitcher Spencer Patton.

Fowler, who missed the Cubs’ last 28 games thanks to a hamstring injury, has been a huge contributor at the top of the team’s batting order. So far this season he’s hit seven home runs and driven in 28 RBI while accumulating an on-base percentage of .398 for the team.

With Fowler back in the mix, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon will have more flexibility in his lineup, with Kris Bryant likely staying in the second spot and Anthony Rizzo staying in the three-hole in the lineup.

That leaves Willson Contreras, Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist, and Jason Heyward to battle over the next four spots in the lineup as Maddon looks to find the right formula for a team that’s beginning to find its stride again after struggling without Fowler before the All-Star break.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Conor Dwyer Looks to Complete 'Unfinished Business' in Rio]]>Fri, 22 Jul 2016 21:31:46 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-543300534.jpg

When Conor Dwyer heads to a meet there’s one thing his family said he always looks for.

“He is always looking for us when he gets to the meet,” said his younger brother Brendan Dwyer. “He knows where we are sitting and it’s fun celebrating together.”

And as Dwyer heads for what will likely be his biggest meet this year at the upcoming Olympic games in Rio, he will undoubtedly have one of the largest and most vocal cheering sections.

“Once he is swimming, everyone is screaming and everyone is looking at us like we are kind of crazy, but it is awesome having us all together,” said his younger sister Patti Dwyer.

For generations, swimming has been a family affair for the Dwyers.

“My mom swam in college,” Conor Dwyer said. “She was an All American swimmer so she taught us how to swim in my grandparent’s backyard pool.”

But not all of Dwyer’s siblings went on to become Olympic athletes.

“We lasted a couple of years,” said PJ Dwyer. “Conor is the only one that stuck it out and it looks like it worked out pretty well for him.”

Dwyer was considered a late bloomer in the sport. It wasn’t until his junior year in college, after he transferred to Florida and grew six inches, that his potential was realized.

“That is when we knew this was his calling,” said his mother Jeanne Dwyer.

In 2012, Dwyer qualified for the London Olympics, reaching the podium with of the biggest names in the sport as a member of the relay team.

“I was 23 on the relay at the time, being with Michael [Phelps], Ryan [Lochte], Ricky [Berens] – all veterans on our Olympic squad – was an amazing experience,” he said.

Now, in 2016, Dwyer is himself one of the veterans on Team USA and he has his sights set on not only on a winning another relay medal, but also grabbing his first individual medal as well.

“I still have some unfinished business in the sport that I am looking forward to accomplishing in Rio,” he said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tillman Officially Retires as a Member of the Bears]]>Fri, 22 Jul 2016 16:06:11 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tillman+bears+retire.png

After signing a one-day contract with the Chicago Bears on Friday, cornerback Charles Tillman was able to retire as a member of the organization, and he reminisced at a Halas Hall press conference about his decade-plus career with the team.

“You saw me turn into a man in front of your own eyes,” Tillman said. “I had a chip on my shoulder ‘cause I was this young kid that no one knew about…I wanted people to know I could play with anybody despite going to a smaller Division I school.”

Tillman certainly did prove that, as he became one of the best cornerbacks in the history of the franchise. He had 36 career interceptions with the Bears during his 12-year career in Chicago, the third-most in franchise history, and he also had 42 forced fumbles, using the iconic “Peanut Punch” move that he invented to help knock the ball away from receivers.

“I’m just gonna try to separate the man away from the ball the best way I know how,” he said when recalling the origins of the punch. “That’s not with my shoulder pads. That’s with my fists.”

After a 12-year career with the Bears, Tillman spent his final NFL season with the Carolina Panthers. Although he did suffer an injury that ended his season, he was an integral part of a secondary that ultimately made it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the Denver Broncos in the title game earlier this year.

With two NFC Championship rings in his collection and a third appearance in the game back in 2011 (which the Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers), Tillman has had a very good career in football, and although he will be plenty busy this fall as an analyst for Fox Sports, there is one thing that he regrets about his NFL career.

“If there’s one regret I have, it’s that I wasn’t the first one to make the 40-40 (interceptions and forced fumbles) club,” Tillman said.

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<![CDATA[Trailblazing Coach Dennis Green Dies at 67]]>Fri, 22 Jul 2016 11:43:25 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-727094521.jpg

Dennis Green, the trailblazing coach that excelled at both the collegiate and professional levels, has passed away at the age of 67.

Green, who coached at Northwestern University from 1981 through 1985, was only the second African-American coach of a Division I football team in history, and he became only the second African-American coach to ever be the head coach of an NFL team when he was hired by the Minnesota Vikings in 1992.

During his career, Green’s teams went 113-94, including a 15-1 season with the Vikings in 1998, and at his stops at Northwestern and Stanford his teams went a combined 26-63 at the collegiate level.

Green, born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1949, was a star halfback at the University of Iowa, playing in three seasons for the Hawkeyes.

He never did play in the NFL, and after stints as an assistant coach at several universities, he got his first head coaching job at Northwestern in 1981.

In his five seasons in Evanston, Green’s teams never made a bowl appearance and only won seven Big Ten games, finishing with a record of 10-45.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Slide Continues for White Sox With 2-1 Loss to Tigers]]>Fri, 22 Jul 2016 06:53:11 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-578549168.jpg

Adam Eaton did not want to leave the ballpark. The way he saw it, this game should not have been called. 

Ian Kinsler hit his 20th home run, Miguel Cabrera added his 19th and the Detroit Tigers beat the struggling Chicago White Sox 2-1 in a game that was stopped after more than a two-hour rain delay in the seventh inning on Thursday. 

A heavy downpour before the bottom of the seventh sent players and umpires running for cover. And after two hours, five minutes the game was called. 

"I don't really agree with it," Eaton said. "I want to stay here and finish the game. It's three innings. What's three innings? But it's not my call."

The White Sox lost for the seventh time in eight games while the Tigers opened a seven-game trip on a winning note. 

Kinsler and Cabrera made it 2-1 with solo homers against James Shields (4-12) in the fifth. Mike Pelfrey (3-9) won for just the second time in nine starts, and the Tigers came out on top after dropping two of three against Minnesota. 

Eaton had three hits and scored for Chicago. Shields gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings, but the White Sox continued their slide after going 1-5 on a trip to the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle. 

"We found another way to lose a game today," Eaton said. "It's just crazy." 

Held to four runs in the Minnesota series, the Tigers used the long ball to grab the lead in the fifth. 

Kinsler tied it with one out on a drive to center for his second homer in as many games. Cameron Maybin followed with a fly to deep right before Cabrera made it 2-1 with his shot to left-center. The home run — his 427th — tied Mike Piazza for 47th all-time. It also gave him 1,499 RBIs. 

"I thought I made a pretty decent pitch to Kinsler," Shields said. "He put a good swing on it and got it up in the air. But the one to Miguel Cabrera is the one I'm not really happy about. I was throwing my changeup down in the zone all day pretty effectively. I left that one up." 

REBOUND PERFORMANCE 

Pelfrey, knocked out in the second by Kansas City last week, picked up the win after going 1-4 in his previous eight starts. The right-hander gave up a run and eight hits before leaving with one out in the sixth and runners on first and second. 

Shane Greene came in and hit Tyler Saladino with two out to load the bases. He then retired J.B. Shuck on a soft grounder to first for his second save in as many chances. 

TRAINER'S ROOM 

Tigers: RF J.D. Martinez took batting practice for the first time since he broke his right elbow last month. "It still bothers him a little bit to throw," said manager Brad Ausmus, who indicated they've yet to determine when he'll begin a minor league rehab stint. . RHP Jordan Zimmerman (neck) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session. Next up, a rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Toledo. . OF Tyler Collins (neck) said he felt much better, but remained out of the lineup. 

White Sox: 2B Brett Lawrie is day to day after leaving the game because of tightness in his left hamstring. He popped out to the pitcher in the second inning and was replaced at second base by Tyler Saladino in the fourth. ... GM Rick Hahn said LHP Carlos Rodon (wrist) "is progressing nicely" and will make a minor-league rehab start before returning. ... Catcher Alex Avila (hamstring) suffered a setback in a rehab game with Triple-A Charlotte and likely won't be activated for another month. ... RHP Zach Putnam (right elbow) also had a setback and will likely need to have bone spurs removed from his elbow. Hahn said OF Austin Jackson, recovering from a torn meniscus in his left knee, will start "ramping up non-impact activity" in the coming days. 

UP NEXT 

RHP Michael Fulmer (9-2, 2.13 ERA) — 7-1 in his past 10 starts — looks to stay on a roll for Detroit while RHP Jacob Turner (0-1, 18.00) makes his second start for Chicago.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Olympian Ousted for Pot in 2012 Hopes for Redemption in Rio]]>Fri, 22 Jul 2016 11:26:43 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Nicholas+Delpopolo+2.jpg

A New Jersey judoka who was expelled from the London 2012 Olympics after he tested positive for marijuana is looking for a second chance in Rio next month. 

Nick Delpopolo, 27, has trained hard at judo since his expulsion four years ago, when he tested positive for cannabis after eating a pot brownie at a celebration party.

Delpopolo says he didn't know that the dessert contained marijuana when he ate it and that "it was the worst thing I have ever done in my life," Patch reported

The Olympian says he was ridiculed and snubbed after the expulsion. 

"I would think, 'Why can't they forgive me?' They were even going so far as to attack my family," he told Patch. 

After his sponsors dropped him, Delpopolo was in a dark place. He says it was letters he received from fans, including fellow athletes, that got him back on his feet and more determined than ever to return to the Olympics as a judo player.  

“I just didn’t want me being expelled from the Olympics to define my judo career, because that is a pretty crappy way to go out," he said. 

Delpopolo worked hard so he could afford to train more. He eventually picked up a new sponsor, Alan Gebheart. 

"Without him I really wouldn't be here," Delpopolo said. 

At the Rio 2016 Olympics he hopes to get a second chance and to show others that "negative things happen but don't let it define you."



Photo Credit: NBC4]]>
<![CDATA[NBA Teams, Players React to All-Star Game Move]]>Thu, 21 Jul 2016 21:01:41 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/238*120/usa-adam-silver-nba-slideshow.jpg

The NBA announced Thursday it will be relocating the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, over the state's controversial law limiting civil rights protections for LGBT people.

In the latest and most high-profile fallout since Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law in March, the league said in a statement that it did not believe the NBA could "successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2."

An alternate city for next February's event has not been announced. The NBA has assured the Charlotte Hornets they hope to bring the 2019 event to Charlotte if issues involving HB2 are resolved.

Caving in to mounting pressure to move the annual event, the NBA joined a growing list of high-profile organizations, businesses and celebrities that have canceled events and pulled business out of North Carolina in protest.

Charles Barkley, one of the most outspoken critics of HB2, who was leading the call to move the All-Star Weekend out of Charlotte, said he would boycott the event if the league didn't move it to another city.

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry learned about the league's decision to pull the game from Charlotte, his home town, during an American Century Championship golf tournament news conference.

"I'm disappointed to not be able to celebrate a game of basketball in Charlotte as the head player," Curry said, adding that he understands the NBA's decision, but was still "hoping on Charlotte."

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne that it was "unfortunate."

"Aside from all the politics, I feel bad for [Michael Jordan] because I knew what that was going to do for the city of Charlotte. For him being able to bring All-Star weekend to Charlotte," Anthony said. "I feel bad for him and for the NBA, too. We as players didn’t think it was going to get to this. It’s unfortunate."

After the decision was announced, NBA teams across the country, as well as current and former players, turned to social media to show support for the league's decision, and to condemn discrimination.

National leaders and celebrities also took to Twitter to praise the NBA for "standing with equality and justice."



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Bears Training Camp Positional Preview: Running Back]]>Thu, 21 Jul 2016 16:18:00 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/carey+langford+bears+GettyImages-503263140.jpg

The Chicago Bears will report to Bourbonnais next week, and as part of our coverage of the team, Grizzly Detail will be diving into the team’s roster ahead of training camp.

We’re keeping things rolling today by taking a look at the running back position, which for the first time in recent memory is a serious question mark for the team.

The Starter:

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bears won’t have Matt Forte in their backfield for the upcoming season, as the star is now under contract with the New York Jets.

With Forte, and his ability to be both a threat out of the backfield and in the passing game, out of the picture, the Bears will likely turn to more of a running-back-by-committee system, and that will likely start with second-year player Jeremy Langford.

During his rookie season with the Bears, Langford averaged 3.6 yards per carry as he rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns for the team. He also had 22 receptions for 279 yards and one score in the passing game, giving fans some optimism that he can be the kind of dual threat back that Forte was during his tenure with the Bears.

The Back-Ups:

The Bears’ roster is a bit thin in terms of experience at the running back spot, with Jacquizz Rodgers having the most experience out of any of the backs on the team.

Rodgers isn’t likely going to be the first option after Langford in the rotation, however. Rather, that role will go to some combination of rookie running back Jordan Howard and third-year player Ka’Deem Carey.

Howard is a big, bruising back that will give the Bears a versatile weapon that can pound in tough carries from the goal line and knock down linebackers and safeties in open space. There are questions about his ability to block on the pass rush and whether or not he has the durability to make it through the grind of a 16-game NFL season (he missed four games during the 2015 campaign at Indiana), but he is definitely going to get some looks in Dowell Loggains’ offense.

Carey is going to get some looks too, but special teams limitations could end up hampering his chances of getting a lot of time. He appeared in 10 games for the Bears in 2015, rushing for two touchdowns and catching another one out of the backfield, and while it’s not clear what his role will be, he has shown an ability to produce a bit in limited touches.

What to Watch For:

While some positions are pretty set in stone for the Bears, the running back spot isn’t one of them. Seeing how John Fox and company put together the workload among the main backs is going to be a fascinating narrative to watch in the preseason.

Will Langford get the lion’s share of the carries? Will Howard hop onto the field with Langford for two-back sets? Will Carey see a bigger role this season than he has in past years with players like Forte ahead of him on the depth chart?

All of those questions are begging for answers, and once the Bears take the field in Bourbonnais and in their first preseason games, fans will have a clearer idea on what the team intends to do in the first year of the post-Forte era.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tillman Lands New Gig After Retirement]]>Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:35:46 -0500http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tillman.png

Just a few days after his retirement from the NFL, former Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has already shown that he’s not content to sit on his couch and watch TV on Sundays.

Instead, he’ll be making TV happen, as he has joined the crew for Fox’s NFL Sunday, the network announced on Thursday. Tillman will join a group that includes anchor Charissa Thompson, commentator Colin Cowherd, and former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt.

“With Charles having spent his entire career in the NFC, we were obviously very familiar with his accomplishments on the field,” Bill Richards, Fox Sports Senior VP of production said in a statement. “He always presented himself well as a player and we were impressed with his knowledge of the game and ability to articulate it when we met with him.”

Tillman announced his retirement earlier this week after 13 productive NFL seasons. The cornerback spent 12 of those seasons with the Bears, where he racked up 42 forced fumbles and 36 interceptions during a career that included a Super Bowl appearance in 2007 and two Pro Bowl appearances.

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