James Daniels Jersey

Plenty of thought went into the Bears’ decision to flip-flop James Daniels and Cody Whitehair on the offensive line after Whitehair had his best season at center last year, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.

But line coach Harry Hiestand boiled down the move in simple terms.

“James is a natural center,” Hiestand said. “Cody became a center when he came to Chicago. James is more natural in there. It’s his best position. He can be special. It’s where he is most comfortable and Cody can do both.”

The switch gives the Bears the luxury of having an experienced backup center in the starting lineup as 44 of Whitehair’s 48 starts over the last three seasons have come at the position. He was at his best last year, a season after the Bears moved him around as injuries forced changes. Whitehair made two starts at left guard, 12 starts at center and two starts at right guard. Settling into one position last season, Whitehair worked through shotgun snapping issues over the summer and had a fine season, finishing with only three penalties after being called for 13 in his first two seasons.

Now, he’s at left guard, a position he likely would have played as a second-round pick in 2016 if the Bears had a better option at center. The switch is in the exploratory stage during OTAs but is not expected to be reversed.

“It just fits James,” Hiestand said. “Cody was forced to play center. All Cody wants to do is help the Bears win. It was a decision we made as a staff and as soon as we approached him about it, he was ready to go.”

Daniels, also a second-round pick, arrived last year with a glowing recommendation from Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, a former line coach in the NFL whose program routinely produces high-caliber linemen. Ferentz called Daniels “probably the most gifted center I have ever been around as far as the tools to be a center, including my six years in the NFL.” That makes it easy to understand why the Bears believe Daniels has the ability to become one of the NFL’s elite centers.

The challenge this spring is for Daniels to master communication with quarterback Mitch Trubisky. He’s making calls and checks at the line of scrimmage, which will take time.

“James, he’s very smart, so the transition’s been very easy for him so far,” Trubisky said. “I would say the only difference this year is that I’m finally hearing him talk. He didn’t talk much last year. So having him at center, we talk a lot more off the field and on the field as well. Hearing him make calls. Just that constant communication back and forth. It’s been great. … It comes easy to him and obviously he played it in college, so it’s been a natural switch and it’s been going really well.”

Daniels moves well for a center, so it’s possible the change will help the running game, especially when he works combination blocks and climbs to the next level. The Bears will get a better idea of that during training camp when the pads go on.

The switch has been seamless for Whitehair, who has more experience at guard than Daniels.

“They said we would try it out and that’s what we’re doing,” Whitehair said. “It’s been a smooth transition. Both James and I feel comfortable in those positions. We both have the same attitude.”

Dan Hampton Jersey

The Roe Conn Show w/Anna Davlantes for Friday, May 24th, 2019:
WGN-TV’s Demetrius Ivory forecasts a wet Memorial Day, Lauren Lapka lays out a whole list of things to do for the holiday weekend, automotive expert/co-host of “His Turn-Her Turn” Paul Brian talks about the 103rd running for the Indianapolis 500, Hall-of-Fame Chicago Bear Dan Hampton looks at the Bears Centennial Top 100 List & the Bears100 Celebration Weekend, the Top [email protected] features Jamie Foxx having fun on live television during the live-action presentation of ‘The Jeffersons,’ Mackenzie DeVito from No Bones Beach Club rolls out a vegan #CanarbleWagon, and The Long Lost performs for LIVE Music Friday.

Richard Dent Jersey

The NFL Draft has never been an exact science. There have been No. 1 overall picks who go on to be major busts, while undrafted players have gone on to have Hall of Fame careers. Back when Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Richard Dent entered the 1983 NFL Draft he was taken with the 203rd overall selection. He went on to put together a stellar career with the organization despite being a late-round selection.

CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso recently ranked the top 100 value draft picks and a total of five Bears selections made the list. The highest spot on the list went to Dent at No. 12.

He played with the Bears between 1983 and 1993 before a one-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994. He returned to the Bears for the 1995 season before spending his final two years in the league with the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XX, was a four-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro. Dent also led the NFL in sacks during the 1985 season.

Following an average first season in the league in 1983, Dent came into his own in his second year in 1984. He ended that season with 17.5 sacks before recording 17 sacks the following year. He racked up 11.5 sacks in 1986 and 12.5 sacks in 1987. The 1988 season saw him record 10.5 sacks followed by nine sacks in 1989. He recorded 12 sacks in 1990, 10.5 sacks in 1991, 8.5 sacks in 1992 and 12.5 sacks in 1993. Dent ended his NFL career with 137.5 sacks and 124.5 of them came during his 12 seasons with the Bears.

Other Bears on the list included quarterback/placekicker George Blanda at No. 28, offensive lineman Dan Fortmann at No. 30, offensive lineman Stan Jones at No. 39 and linebacker Mike Singletary at No. 67.

Blanda began his career with the Bears in 1949. He remained with the Bears through the 1958 season. A quarterback and placekicker, Blanda threw for 5,936 yards with 49 touchdowns and 70 interceptions during his time with the Bears. Most of his recognition came when he was playing for the Houston Oilers and later for the Oakland Raiders. He played an NFL record 26 seasons and retired after the 1975 season. He was later named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Fortmann is another Hall of Famer for the Bears organization. A ninth-round pick in 1936, Fortmann played his entire career with the Bears between 1936 and 1943. He ended his run with the team with three NFL championships, three Pro Bowl nods and was a seven-time All-Pro. He was also a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1930s.

Mike Ditka Jersey

Mike Ditka, Pro Football Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl-winning coach, joined ESPN as an NFL analyst in 2004.

With a combined 26 years of playing (12) and head coaching (14) experience, Ditka is an analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown and makes regular appearances on ESPN Radio and SportsCenter. He also served as a booth analyst during the Monday Night Football doubleheader in 2007 and 2008, alongside Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of Mike & Mike in the Morning. Ditka previously worked as both an analyst and commentator at CBS and NBC.

Ditka has amassed a career few can match. He is only the second person to win the Super Bowl as a player (Dallas, 1972), assistant coach (Dallas, 1977), and head coach (Chicago, 1986). After earning All-America honors at the University of Pittsburgh, the tight end enjoyed a stellar 12-year NFL playing career. He was named NFL Rookie of the Year and selected All-Pro six times. He also caught a touchdown in the Cowboy’s Super Bowl VI win against the Miami Dolphins.

As an assistant coach with Dallas, Ditka’s teams made it to the playoffs eight times, including the 1977 Super Bowl victory. In 1982, he assumed the head coaching job in Chicago, and in 11 years, collected six NFC Central titles, three NFC championship game appearances, and the Super Bowl XX title (1986) for which he was named Coach of the Year.

He again earned the honor in 1988 after coaching the Bears to the NFC championship game. Mike Ditka left Chicago in 1992 only to return as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1997. He retired from coaching in 2000.

In addition to broadcasting, Ditka owns and operates Ditka’s restaurants with locations in Chicago and Pittsburgh. He also continues to generously devote himself to varied charitable endeavors, including numerous anti-drug and prevention campaigns. He founded The Mike Ditka Foundation in 1989 to raise funds for Misericordia, a residential facility for developmentally disabled children, and also for pediatric AIDS research programs.

When he was the coach of the Bears, the team held its summer training camp in Platteville from 1984 to 2001.

Tom Waddle Jersey

Players leave the Buffalo Bills for the New England Patriots, looking to find out firsthand what it’s like to be on the dynastic side of the NFL tracks.

Stephon Gilmore, Chris Hogan, Mike Gillislee and Scott Chandler are among prominent former Bills who recently got their taste of being a part of the league’s gold standard. Gilmore and Hogan have Super Bowl rings to show for their Patriot experiences.

For the past four seasons, LaAdrian Waddle was a Patriot. But the offensive tackle’s career has traveled in the opposite direction of the Orchard Park-Foxborough, Mass., path. In March, Waddle signed with the Bills as a free agent.

“It’ll definitely be interesting, once we come around to playing (the Patriots),” Waddle said during a recent conversation with The Buffalo News. “But I felt like this was a good opportunity for me. I felt like the Bills believe in a lot of things I believe in, as far as hard work and kind of a blue-collar attitude and just how to go about things.

Waddle, 27, was one of six offensive linemen the Bills signed in free agency. He’s among three tackles the team added, joining fellow free agent Ty Nsekhe and second-round draft pick Cody Ford, who the Bills initially plan to play at right tackle.

Waddle was a part-time starter for the Patriots. He’ll compete for one of the starting spots Dion Dawkins and Jordan Mills filled last season. At the very least, Waddle should provide solid depth one would expect from a veteran entering his seventh season.

“As of now, it’s just a bunch of guys trying to learn each other, trying to get to know one another,” Waddle said before the draft. “And as a group, we’ll slowly grow. It takes some time, honestly. That’s what this time is for, to get to know each other, to get the bond. Once we start doing more football stuff, we’ll pick that up and we’ll kind of see the personalities, how guys play. Then it’s up to the coaching staff to put that all together as the product on the field.

“I could do anything you want me to do. As far as physically, I feel like I can handle whatever blocking assignment I need to do. And then, as far as the mental part of the game, I’m seven years in now. I’ve seen a lot of stuff playing against a lot of guys, and I feel like I can digest the playbook well and I have a good understanding of what’s going on. So that kind of helps me play faster than, I guess, someone who doesn’t know the playbook as well without that experience.”

He has coaching connections with the Bills. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was an offensive assistant with the Patriots for part of Waddle’s time in New England, and Bobby Johnson, the Bills’ new offensive line coach, was assistant offensive line coach of the Detroit Lions for a portion of the three seasons Waddle spent with them. The Lions signed him as an undrafted free agent from Texas Tech in 2013.

Waddle started 24 of the 30 games he played for the Lions before assuming more of a reserve role in New England. Yet, even though he made only seven starts for the Pats, he left with Super Bowl rings. That puts him in a far loftier place than everyone else on the Bills, who have made only one playoff appearance in the last 18 seasons … and it was as fluky, one-and-done wild-card entry.

As far as Waddle is concerned, however, the contrasting history of the franchises doesn’t tell the whole story, especially in the time that he resided in the AFC East penthouse.

The biggest difference of all must come from quarterback Josh Allen. Since 2015, Waddle has had an up-close view of arguably the greatest quarterback – if not player at any position – in the history of the game.

He realizes there will be an adjustment from protecting Tom Brady, regardless of who is working behind him.

“There’s only one Tom Brady, let’s be real,” Waddle said. “But seeing Josh and what he’s capable of and just knowing the talent’s there … and I think, going from your rookie year to your second year, that’s when you take a big jump, personally. I know he’s going to do everything in his power to improve and get better. It’s just something that, obviously, we don’t know how it’s going to play out, but I believe he’ll do the right things and I think he can really make an impact.”

As iconic as Brady might be, Waddle always felt they had mutual respect as players who saw each other as nothing less than teammates striving for a common goal. It’s one of the tenants of the “Patriot Way.” “Team-first, players play for each other,” Waddle said. “That was a big deal there, and I know it’s huge here.”

Bill Belichick is the architect of the “Patriot Way” ethos. Going from the very top of the NFL’s coaching food chain to Sean McDermott, who enters his third season as a head coach with a 15-18 record (counting the postseason) is another significant transition for Waddle.

William Perry Jersey

A dedication was held Thursday afternoon on William Perry Elementary School’s playground for not only a symbol but a physical reminder of the school’s dedication to stop bullying.

Donated by the Waynesboro Kiwanis Club, a “Buddy Bench” was installed.

“Hopefully, it will lead to new friendships,” said Sara Loker, a guidance counselor at William Perry Elementary School and the K Kids Club advisor, at the dedication.

Loker, third grade teacher Shami Pizarro, second grade teacher Christine George, and Christi Phillips worked with the Waynesboro Kiwanis Club to bring the Buddy Bench to the school’s playground.

This year was the first for the K Kids Club at William Perry Elementary. The club’s Kiwanis sponsor was Billie Quigley.

Loker said the K Kids Club’s 20 members in grades third through fifth took field trips during the academic year to Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry and made sandwiches, did crafts with residents at Summit Square in Waynesboro, rang bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas time and conducted a recycling program.

According to Loker, the Waynesboro Kiwanis Club provided guidance for K Kids to get started.

K Kids Club is a way to “get kids to focus on leadership and service in the community.”

“It was really a successful first year,” Loker said.

The bench gives students the opportunity to interact with their peers they would not normally have a chance with which to interact.

“It’s a visual representation of someone saying: ‘Hey, I’m feeling left out. I need someone to play with,’” Loker said.

William Perry Elementary Principal Tammy Hipes said the Kiwanis Club “supports us in a lot of different ways.”

Kiwanis supports Raising Resources for Readers (RRR), which enables the school to obtain books from the Green Valley Book Fair, and provides food bags at the end of the week.

“I think [the Buddy Bench is] a fantastic idea,” said Hipes. “It’s very much something I think the kids will participate in and use.”

Hipes said she has confidence that students at William Perry Elementary will go sit with a student they see sitting alone on the bench.

“I think it’s a great concept,” Hipes said.

The bench is also a wonderful way to teach students “how to step up to the plate and make new kids or kids who feel out of place feel part of the group.”

Bob Barrette, Waynesboro Kiwanis Club Secretary, said the K Kids Club members were asked to perform 2,500 service hours, then the Kiwanis Club would give them a special prize.

“And they met their goal,” said Barrette.

Loker said in the beginning of the academic year, the K Kids Club began to meet and set goals for achievement, and members said they wanted a Buddy Bench for the school’s playground.

“I think it’s a way of dealing with bullying in a proactive way by steering school leaders to take an active lead,” Barrette said of the bench.

Evelyn Moles, 10, is a member of K Kids and in 4th grade at William Perry Elementary.

Her grandfather, Mike Moles, is in Kiwanis, and encouraged Evelyn to join the elementary school chapter.

“I like it, because I get to help people,” said Evelyn, who would like to become a veterinarian when she grows up.

Brian Urlacher Jersey

urlacher_1920_bears.jpg

Brian Urlacher played his way into the pantheon of Bears linebackers and the Hall of Fame over his 13-year career in Chicago, leaving no question he belongs among the all-time greats.

Where he stacks up with the best of the best in team history is still up for debate.

Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson ranked the top 100 players in franchise history for the team’s official site, and Urlacher fell outside of the top 10.

Urlacher came in one spot ahead of fellow legendary linebacker Mike Singletary, but the greats of pre-merger era earned many of the top spots on the list.

Dick Butkus came in second to only Walter Payton, while old school legends Bill George and Bulldog Turner ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.

It’s difficult to compare linebackers that played 50 years apart, especially when stacking them up with players at other positions.

Urlacher is still near the top of the list of the best Bears ever. They just have so many all-time greats, the likes of Dan Hampton, Richard Dent and Jimbo Covert just don’t have a spot in the top 10.

Dick Butkus Jersey

The poll was part of the “Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook” that is being sold by the team online.

Payton played 13 memorable years with the Bears and is second on the NFL’s All-Time rushing list with 16,726 yards. He surpassed Jim Brown’s old record for rushing in 1984 and held the record for 18 years until Emmitt Smith broke it with the Dallas Cowboys in 2002.

A seven-time All-Pro, nine-time Pro Bowler, and the 1977 NFL MVP, Payton helped the Bears to their first and (so far) only Super Bowl title in 1985.

He was named to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1993 — where he was introduced by his son Jarrett Payton, who is now an anchor on WGN-TV and CLTV Sports Feed.

On Nov. 1, 1999, Payton died of complications from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver disease.

Linebacker Dick Butkus was the second best, followed by Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman and Gale Sayers in the Top 5.

Mike Singletary Jersey

When Mike Singletary talks about anything defense-related, you tend to pay attention.

Such was the case on 1st & 10 @ 10 when the guys had the Hall of Fame middle linebacker on to chat Denver Broncos and what makes a good inside linebacker.

Since Singletary has been around the NFL for so long, he knows about new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Given that, what does Singletary think about Fangio and the hire to be Denver’s head coach?

“Time will tell about the hire itself,” Singletary said. “But what he’s been able to do as a coordinator has been extraordinary. I think he’s done a great job of putting the right guys in the right position and being able to have a scheme that allows them to play at the best of their ability.”

Steve Atwater said it best about Singletary.

When the Broncos legend looks at middle linebackers, Atwater said they don’t make them like Singletary anymore. That brought forth a good question from Atwater — what characteristics make up a great inside linebacker?

“I think one of the best characteristics that make up a really good middle linebacker is instincts,” Singletary told the guys on 1st & 10 @ 10 on Thursday. “A guy can be fast. A guy can be tough. You can put a guy who has never really played linebacker and you see a guy start to pick up things. So to me, that’s the No. 1 characteristic of a really good middle linebacker.”

What will be fun to watch for over the course of training camp and preseason is how Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell best utilize both Todd Davis, Josey Jewell and the other middle linebackers on the roster. We know Fangio has a scheme that puts players in the best situation to have success, and Jewell already loves Fangio’s coaching style and his defense. They won’t turn into Singletary, but both Davis and Jewell have the instincts he said are key.

Gale Sayers Jersey

Running back Gale Sayers is fifth on the list. The “Kansas Comet” set 23 Bears records and seven NFL marks during his career and was the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame at age 34 in 1977. In winning the NFL Rookie of the Year Award in 1965, Sayers set a league record with 22 touchdowns and tied another mark by scoring six TDs in an unforgettable performance against the 49ers.

Tight end Mike Ditka is ranked No. 6. Before he became “Da Coach” in the 1980s, Ditka was one of the NFL’s greatest tight ends. Ditka was voted to five Pro Bowls in six seasons with the Bears from 1961-66, catching 316 passes for 4,503 yards and 34 touchdowns. He remains the Bears’ all-time leader in all three of those categories among tight ends and was the first tight end inducted into the Hall of Fame in1988.

The rest of the top 10 is rounded out by middle linebacker Bill George at No. 7, center/linebacker Bulldog Turner at No. 8, defensive end Doug Atkins at No. 9 and guard Danny Fortmann at No. 10.

Click through the photo gallery below of the top 25 players in Bears history, a list that also includes Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Devin Hester, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher.