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Undrafted rookie Ford battling for job

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 29, 2013 – 1:07 pm

Bears rookie Michael Ford was an explosive running back and kick returner at LSU who posted impressive numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine—but he still was not selected in the draft.

“I couldn’t really tell you why I wasn’t drafted,” Ford said. “But at the end of the day everything happens for a reason. I’m thankful for the Bears giving me this opportunity and getting out here to play and show my skills.”

Battling for the third running back position behind Matt Forte and Michael Bush, Ford has impressed the Bears in preseason action, especially in the return game. The 5-10, 216-pounder has rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, caught seven passes for 52 yards and averaged 35.3 yards on nine kickoff returns including a 100-yarder against the Chargers.

“So far he’s done a good job for the most part,” said special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. “He’s had a couple things he’d probably like to have back, but he’s done a good job. We’ll see what happens with him. He’s one of the guys that’s definitely in the mix.”

Ford’s main competition for the third running back spot is Armando Allen, who is expected to play in Thursday night’s preseason finale after missing two games with a hamstring injury. With Allen out, Ford tried to make the most of expanded reps.

“You’ve definitely got to take advantage of those,” Ford said. “But being a team man, I hope he comes back and he gets to get in that rotation and keep fighting and fighting just like me.”

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Wilson enjoying impressive preseason

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 29, 2013 – 12:43 pm

It’s unclear whether receiver Marquess Wilson will earn a spot on the Bears’ 53-man roster, but the rookie seventh-round draft pick is in contention thanks to a strong preseason.

“Marquess has shown up in games and he knows coming in here that he had to do everything right to have a chance to make the team and he’s done a lot of things right,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “He’s made plays in games, he’s made plays in practice, and consistency for a young guy is the biggest part.”

Through three preseason games, Wilson leads Bears receivers with 96 yards on five receptions, including an impressive 58-yard catch-and-run against the Carolina Panthers.

“He does know what to do,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “I think things come very naturally to him as a player, as a receiver. He needs to get a little bit stronger, little more assertive and that’s just going to come with more experience with him being out there and going through things.

“Whenever we throw him the ball, he catches it, and that’s what you want to see in a receiver. So we’ll steadily bring him along and he’ll be a contributor for us.”

Wilson is listed third on the depth chart at one receiver position behind Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett. Bennett was expected to be the team’s third wideout behind Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but the fourth-year pro has been sidelined since Aug. 3 with a concussion.

Other receivers competing for backup positions include Joe Anderson and Eric Weems, both of whom contribute more on special teams than Wilson.

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Greene hopes to make most of extra reps

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 29, 2013 – 12:27 pm

With most Bears starters not suiting up in Thursday night’s preseason finale, Khaseem Greene is eager to take advantage of the expanded playing time he’ll likely get against the Browns.

“Every opportunity to play for me is exciting,” said the rookie linebacker. “It helps me learn the game; make mistakes so I can get on film and correct and definitely not make them when it counts, when my team is counting on me and when the coaches are counting on me. Even in the exhibition games, it’s still on me not to make mistakes. It’s just more or less getting more game experience.”

Greene, who has been working primarily behind perennial Pro Bowler Lance Briggs at weakside linebacker, has impressed defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

“We just keep talking to him about playing faster and faster every day and working to get better,” Tucker said. “It starts with his technique fundamentals, his alignments and things like that and just playing fast and not worrying about making mistakes. It’s a daily process with all these guys, just trying to find ways to improve every time out, whether it’s practice or a game. I’m excited to see these guys. They’re going to get a lot of reps in this game.”

The Bears spent two of their first three draft picks on linebackers this year, selecting Jon Bostic in the second round and Greene in the fourth. The two rookies have bonded since Day 1.

“We have a great relationship,” Greene said. “We feed off of one another. We push one another. If I make a mistake he’s there to correct me and if I know he’s making a mistake I can say, ‘Look, Jon, that was the wrong call and let’s get it fixed the next play.’ That’s the type of relationship we have with one another.”

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Onobun looks to rebound in finale

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 29, 2013 – 12:06 pm

Bears tight end Fendi Onobun showed flashes of athleticism and playmaking ability during training camp but has struggled mightily with dropped passes in preseason games.

In Thursday night’s exhibition finale against the Cleveland Browns, the 6-6, 260-pounder will get one last chance to prove he deserves a spot on the Bears’ 53-man roster. Final cuts are due by 5 p.m. Saturday.

“Fendi Onobun has had a very good camp and has been uncharacteristically inconsistent in the games,” said first-year head coach Marc Trestman. “You’ve seen things in practice that we haven’t seen in the games. Does that mean we’ve lost confidence? No.

“We’ve got to continue to have him work through it. This is really his first year of football and he’s shown the ability to do it. He’s just got to work through this phase when he gets under the lights that he can continue to play as consistently and I think he can do that down the road.”

Onobun followed an unusual path to the NFL. He played basketball for four years at Arizona before using a final year of college eligibility to play football at the University of Houston in 2009.

Onobun was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Rams and appeared in three games as a rookie with St. Louis, catching two passes for 15 yards. He had brief stints with the Seahawks, Redskins, Jaguars and Bills before joining the Bears after the 2012 season.

Onobun has yet to catch a pass this preseason. He dropped a sure touchdown in the opener against the Panthers and had two more drops in last weekend’s win over the Raiders.

After the Bears returned to Chicago from Oakland, Onobun spent several hours at fellow tight end Martellus Bennett’s home having a heart-to-heart talk. Onobun and Bennett have been close friends since they were classmates and basketball teammates at Alief Taylor High School in Houston.

“I was just telling him that I think he just gets to the point where he just thinks football, football, football,” Bennett said. “But you could lose yourself. Football is not who we are; it’s what we do. Sometimes, when it becomes who you are, you kind of lose yourself. Every little thing that goes wrong with it, it affects you in a major way instead of being able to deal with the adversity.

“Bad stuff happens in football. You’re going to have the drops. You’re going to have a bad block. You’re going to have a bad play. Guys on the other side get paid $50 million to stop you from having a good play. For him, it’s just dealing with adversity and when something doesn’t go your way, put it behind you. Next play, you make a big block because a block is just as good as a catch. Make the extra effort on that. I think he just presses too much sometimes.”

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