Bear Necessities: Ryan Poles loved how O-line came to Justin Fields’ defense on late hit vs. Browns

Ryan Poles on the Bears’ O-line defending Justin Fields after late hit: “They’re stepping up when they need to and protecting their guy.”

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields has learned the hard way that he’s not going to get the roughing calls that more seasoned quarterbacks are afforded in the NFL. During the preseason, Fields was hit late twice, including in the preseason opener against the Chiefs that wasn’t called a penalty.

It happened again in the preseason finale against the Browns, where Fields went to slide and took a shot to the head. Several Bears, including offensive linemen Sam Mustipher and Larry Borom, stepped in to defend their quarterback.

General manager Ryan Poles praised the offensive line jumping in to defend Fields after the late hit.

“They’re getting it,” Poles said Thursday. “They’re stepping up when they need to and protecting their guy.”

It’s a subtle yet important change from last year, where the offensive line rarely came to Fields’ defense — during a season when he was sacked more than any other quarterback in the league.

Bears fans surely remember when Teven Jenkins stood up for Fields after he took a late hit out of bounds against the Vikings last season. Former Bears lineman Germain Ifedi shoved Jenkins for drawing a penalty in standing up for his quarterback.

But this offseason, Poles made it clear the kind of offensive linemen he’s looking for — and that includes those who will rise to the defense of their quarterback rather than walk back to the huddle.

Bears CB Greg Stroman Jr. among ‘Secret Superstars’ of preseason Week 3

Bears CB Greg Stroman Jr. had an impressive preseason performance vs. Browns, which might help him earn a roster spot.

As the Chicago Bears work on trimming their roster to 53, there are a number of roster bubbles who have made strong impressions this preseason. That includes veteran cornerback Greg Stroman Jr., who made his preseason debut last Saturday against the Cleveland Browns.

Stroman had 4 tackles, 2 pass breakups and an interception of Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar has also been impressed with what he’s seen from Stroman, especially coming out of Saturday’s game against the Browns. Farrar named Stroman one of his “Secret Superstars” from the final week of the preseason.

Stroman, the former Washington (NFL) cornerback who hasn’t played since the 2020 season, showed against the Browns on Saturday that he’d like to help with that improvement process. He gave up two catches on six targets for 12 yards, this interception, an opponent passer rating of 2.8. Moreover, Stroman looked impressively sticky throughout routes he was covering when it was time to match receivers.

With roster cuts underway, Stroman is a roster bubble player who elevated his stock last Saturday and could secure a spot on the 53-man roster.

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Bears’ offense led the NFC in these stats during the preseason

The Bears led the NFC in a couple of noteworthy offensive categories during their 3-0 preseason run.

The Chicago Bears closed the preseason a perfect 3-0, which certainly has to make this new coaching staff under Matt Eberflus happy.

While there’s no correlation between that and what’s to come in the regular season, there was plenty to love about Chicago’s preseason performance — both from starters and reserves.

The Bears led the NFC in a couple of noteworthy offensive categories. According to The Athletic‘s Kevin Fishbain, Chicago led the conference with six passing touchdowns. Three of those were courtesy of quarterback Justin Fields, who also topped the NFC with a 133.1 passer rating.

The Bears finished the preseason on a high note in last Saturday’s 21-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns, which included an impressive outing by the offense. Fields completed 14-of-16 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns for a 146.9 passer rating.

Following a rough first series, Chicago’s offense responded with three touchdown drives in the first half. Everything was jelling — the passing game, the ground game, the play-calling and even the offensive line rebounded after a poor start.

It was the kind of performance that Fields called “a turning point” for this Bears offense heading into the regular season.

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Texans coach Lovie Smith going with ‘gut feeling’ backed by data on roster cuts

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith is in his 12th NFL season as a coach, and he has learned to go with a “gut feeling” bolstered by information.

Going from a 90-man roster during the spring down to a 53-man roster is not a surprise for Lovie Smith.

The Houston Texans coach is in his 12th season in the NFL as the man on the sidelines. Part of what helps him make his decisions is to clarify the goals for the players.

“What I’ve learned is that we kind of know the rules early on and numbers we have to get down to,” Smith told reporters Monday. “You let the players know early. ‘Guys, eventually we have to get to this. Everything you do from now on, we’re looking at.’”

The NFL Smith is in compared to what he entered in 2004 as coach of the Chicago Bears is one of information. With practices filmed, the coaching staff and personnel departments have plenty of information to decide who fits with the organization and who doesn’t.

Ultimately, Smith listens to an inner voice.

Said Smith: “What I’ve learned is there’s a gut feeling you go with, backed up by information, and we grade everything. We see them in every environment. In the end, I don’t think the decisions are that hard. It becomes clearer when you just let guys start playing.”

The only group of players that can prove mysterious are the rookies, according to Smith.

“Rookies you don’t know, you let them come in and you just start comparing them and they kind of tell you,” Smith said. “It’s not my first rodeo and that’s what I felt going into hard cuts. In the end, it’s pretty clear on what you need to do.”

The Texans need to get to 53 players by 3:00 p.m. Central Time Aug. 30.

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Texans with 2 defenders who make Touchdown Wire’s preseason Week 3 ‘secret superstars’ list

Houston Texans safety Jalen Pitre and defensive end Derek Rivers landed on the Touchdown Wire’s “secret superstars” list for preseason Week 3.

The Houston Texans’ roster has had its chance to showcase to the rest of the NFL that there is some budding talent.

According to Doug Farrar from the Touchdown Wire, the Texans had two defensive players who landed on their “secret superstars” for the third week of the preseason.

Defensive end Derek Rivers made the list. Unfortunately, Rivers may be lost for the season as he has a torn biceps, anything but a fitting conclusion to his productive exhibition campaign.

Pitre, a second-rounder from Baylor, caught Farrar’s attention.

Pitre has more than earned Smith’s confidence. Opposing quarterbacks tested Pitre with three targets this preseason, and he didn’t allow a single completion. Smith has to love how aggressive and accurate Pitre is as a run defender…

Smith also had to like this play, where Pitre (No. 5) locked George Kittle up from the line of scrimmage, preventing Trey Lance from going to the easy outlet, and allowing cornerback Steven Nelson to break up the deep pass.

“What we notice, is when you’re making a whole lot of big flash plays,” Smith said after the 49ers game. “Jalen has been consistent throughout. He’s a smart player. He’s been like a sponge as far as learning. But he’s going to be around the ball. That’s what we’ve seen since OTAs. I’m excited about going forward with him and him lining up for us when Indy comes into town.”

And there you have it.

The Texans will be able to take on of their dynamic defenders from the preseason into the regular season as Pitre will make his debut against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 11 at NRG Stadium. With Houston having a defensive back who can play various roles in coach Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme, it should give the Texans an impactful defense to strike fear in opposing offenses.

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Texans defensive pressure created havoc in 2022 preseason

The Houston Texans’ defensive pressure was productive throughout the three-game preseason.

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith has preached two fundamentals on the defensive side of the ball since the day he arrived at NRG Stadium that will lead to success.

One is taking the ball away from the opponents to give the offense extra possessions, and the other is putting consistent pressure on the quarterback to force him into bad decisions that will lead to takeaways. If the preseason indicates how the regular season will look, then the Texans’ defense has the second fundamental mastered.

Houston led the NFL in sacks with 14 during their three preseason games, according to the NFL communications department’s final statistics released Monday.

“We’re a four-man front,” Smith said after the 17-0 win over the San Francisco 49ers. “The defensive line is the engine of our defense. It starts there. In an ideal world, yeah, we have every manageable blitz. We want to be able to get pressure with four guys. It’s an insult to our defensive line if we do blitz. They’ve been rushing the passer like that throughout camp, and in all the preseason games, we’ve liked the pressure we’ve been able to get.”

Injured defensive lineman Derek Rivers (torn iceps) led the team with three sacks, resulting in a loss of 24 yards. Houston had a preseason high six sacks in their second game against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Texans open their season at home against the Indianapolis Colts, who added veteran quarterback Matt Ryan to their roster this past offseason. Houston will have to rely on that preseason pressure to get to him early and often.

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Texans coach Lovie Smith says he feels for young players during roster cuts

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith knows how hard it is to have to cut a young player after a solid preseason.

Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith has been the man on the sidelines for 11 previous NFL seasons, which means that he has also had the unenviable task of derailing the dreams of scores of young, talented players.

Such is the nature of the NFL, which demands that teams finalize their 53-man rosters each year. For the Texans, they will have to go from 80 players to 53 by 3:00 p.m. Central Time on Aug. 30.

Smith has compassion on the young players, particularly because of how much time was spent together inside NRG Stadium throughout the offseason workouts and training camp.

“You feel for guys,” Smith told reporters Monday. “I’m looking forward to all of the conversations because we all started at the same spot, and when you signed up for this, you knew this was a part of it, too. It’s never any fun when you tell someone that we’re going a different direction.”

The glimmer of optimism despite the rejection is the fact there are 31 other teams, and the adventure of playing in the NFL can continue in another city.

“If they’ve done everything they’re supposed to do and they can play, there’s 32 teams,” said Smith. “I haven’t only been at one team. If you’re a good coach or you’re a good player, there will be a spot for you somewhere.”

The Texans will have 16 practice squad openings available, which means a cut may not be the end of the line in Houston. However, players must remain on the waiver wire for a day before being signed back to Houston’s practice squad.

Predicting 27 Bears players who will be cut ahead of Tuesday’s deadline

As the final cuts deadline looms this Tuesday, here’s our prediction for the 27 Bears players who will be cut.

The Chicago Bears wrapped their preseason with a 21-20 win over the Cleveland Browns. But now is when the real work begins for the Bears, who have to trim their roster from 80 to 53 players by 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday, which means there are going to be some tough cuts.

After making our final 53-man roster projection, here’s our prediction for which 27 players will be cut this week ahead of Tuesday’s deadline:

Bears’ 53-man roster projection ahead of final cuts

Following the final preseason game, we’re taking one last crack at predicting the Bears’ 53-man roster.

The Chicago Bears defeated the Cleveland Browns 21-20 in their third preseason game, where some players made a strong push for roster spots ahead of the final round of cuts.

There were a number of standout performers during Saturday’s preseason win, but there are also a number of tough cuts on the way as general manager Ryan Poles has to trim the roster from 80 to 53 players by Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT.

Following the third preseason game, here are my final predictions for the Bears’ 53-man roster:

Bear Necessities: Dante Pettis has made his case for a roster spot

Dante Pettis had a strong preseason for the Bears, and he’s someone who has a chance to lock down one of those final roster spots.

This is our online morning newsletter, Bear Necessities. Subscribe to get the latest Bears news delivered to your mailbox every day.

The Chicago Bears wrapped the preseason are in the midst of making some difficult decisions as they trim their roster down to 53 players.

There are a number of roster bubble players who have made strong impressions this preseason in hopes of securing a roster spot. That includes Dante Pettis, who has taken advantage of injuries at the wide receiver position.

“It sucks when people get hurt, but it’s football,” Pettis said. “I’ve been hurt; someone else behind me has stepped up. So that’s kind of how the game goes.”

Pettis has elevated his stock with a strong preseason, including in Saturday’s finale against the Cleveland Browns. Pettis had three receptions for 37 yards and a 12-yard touchdown from quarterback Justin Fields in the left corner of the end zone. The score extended Chicago’s lead to 14-0 in the second quarter.

“It was a quick post-corner,” Pettis said. “The DB was lined up inside of me anyway, so I kind of knew that I had good leverage. I tried to take my time and make sure I wasn’t too quick. I turned around and saw the ball in the air.”

Pettis has shown his versatility on offense in the passing game and special teams as a punt returner. Usually, final roster spots come down to special teams.

“The more you can do, coaches love that,” Pettis said, “so I’m just glad that I had an opportunity to play both offense and punt return today.”

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