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The Bear's Den: May 25, 2016

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The Chicago Bears are seeing some very interesting rankings coming from various sources, including a PFF ranking that shows Chicago with three of the top five most sure LB tacklers in the league (Jones, Freeman and Trevathan) as well as several sources giving the Bears the second highest grades for the 2016 draft. Is Chicago REALLY improving? What news is there from the start of Chicago's (Alshon-less) voluntary OTA's?

The Greatest #63 in Bears history, Jay Hilgenberg
The Greatest #63 in Bears history, Jay Hilgenberg
George Rose/Getty Images

BEAR DOWN!!!!

BEARRRSSSS

Perez: Bears’ linebackers among best tacklers in NFL, according to Pro Football Focus - Bears Wire - The Chicago Bears linebackers have been graded among the best tacklers in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus

Dickerson: Is Chicago Bears RB Jeremy Langford ready to replace Matt Forte? - Chicago Bears Blog- ESPN - The Bears will have a new lead running back, but fans should temper expectations for Jeremy Langford, who started just two games last season.

Photos: Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery - Chicago Tribune - Photos of Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

Biggs: Kevin White, Alshon Jeffery and ... in the slot? - Chicago TribuneKevin White, Alshon Jeffery and ... in the slot?

Fishbain: Kevin White's return takes another step when Chicago Bears begin OTAs - Pro Football Weekly - Bears begin OTAs Tuesday with a few intriguing story lines

Ranking The Most Ridiculous Catches Of Alshon Jeffery's Career - Sports Mockery - Videos & stuff.

Cox: Alshon Jeffery not at OTAs, but not holding out - Bears Wire - According to CBS Chicago, Alshon Jeffery is not in a contract dispute while missing the team's voluntary OTAs.

Mullen: Return of No. 1 pick Kevin White a focal point as Bears begin OTA's - CSN Chicago - Fewer storylines around the Bears to this point carry the individual significance as that of former No. 1 pick Kevin White's return to the team.

Jahns: After Zach Miller, who do Bears have at tight end? - Chicago Sun-Times - The Bears traded away Martellus Bennett leaving them thin at tight end.

kaberon: White eager to get back on field - ChicagoBears.comKevin White's rookie season did not go as planned, as an injury sidelined him for the entire year. Following a lengthy rehab, the Bears receiver is eager to return.

Lambert: Alshon Jeffery Has Key Reason To Train In Florida Over Chicago - Sports Mockery - A lot of people are nervous about the fact that Alshon Jeffery has still not returned to join the Chicago Bears for practice activities. OTAs just started and expectations are for all players to be in attendance even though it’s considered voluntary at this point. Jeffery has not budged from his commitment to continue training alone down in Florida, leading to rampant speculation that he has no interest in staying with the team long-term.

Wiltfong: Ten Thoughts on the NFL - Windy City Gridiron - Go check out my latest version of Ten Thoughts on the National Football League and be sure to drop a few thoughts of your own in the comment section!

Bad News About Alshon Jeffery Overshadowed By Positive Comments From Agent - Sports Mockery - The Chicago Bears started OTAs today, which are also voluntary, but they didn’t have their number one wide receiver with them. Alshon Jeffery is currently signed under a franchise tag which means he will likely be a free agent next season unless he signs an extension or gets franchised again.

BIGGS TRIBUNE MAILBAG (organized for your convenience)

Will Eddie Goldman make the Pro Bowl this season? - Chicago Tribune - Will Eddie Goldman make the Pro Bowl this season?

Do Bears want Leonard Floyd to be bigger or faster? - Chicago Tribune - I know at the combine Leonard Floyd ran a 4.59 seconds at 244 pounds. Does that mean he's even faster than we know seeing how he played 10 pounds less in the

Is the Bears defense ahead of the offense right now? - Chicago Tribune - At this point in the season, would you put the Bears defense ahead of the offense?

Does Cliff Stein not being involved have anything to do with unsigned picks? - Chicago Tribune - Cliff Stein is not involved and the Bears still have two unsigned picks? What's up with that?

Will Bears stick with 3-4 defense if Vic Fangio ever leaves? - Chicago Tribune - After spending millions of dollars in free agency and many draft picks over the last two years transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, the hope is that the

Should Bears kick the tires on Brandon Boykin, Donte Whitner and Walter Thurmond? - Chicago Tribune - Is it worth checking out Brandon Boykin, Donte Whitner and Walter Thurmond?

Difference between nickel and dime positions on defense? - Chicago Tribune - Can you clarify the nickel and dime positions on defense?

POLISH SAUSAGE

Rothstein: Anthony Zettel roundhouse kicked a water bottle - ESPNLions sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel can help on the Lions D-line, in no small part due to his offseason MMA training that has improved his technique. (Ken's note: no evidence has appeared yet that the man can jump out of a pool)

Birkett: Ex-Bears QB Erik Kramer gets help after suicide attempt after years of pain - Chicago Tribune - Erik Kramer flew home to California last July, and almost immediately began planning his death.

Farmer: NFL owners will use secret ballot to vote for 2018-2020 Super Bowl host cities - Chicago Tribune - NFL owners will vote on whether they should kick off their second century with a in the nation's second-largest market.

LanHam: Atlanta, South Florida and Los Angeles awarded Super Bowls - TheComeback.com - Atlanta, South Florida and Los Angeles were awarded Super Bowls in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. L.A. and Atlanta will host the event in new stadiums.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Jennerjohn: Is Dom Capers the next scapegoat? - Cheesehead TV - I’m not a member of the "Fire Capers" fan club. Capers has done a solid job in seven years as an innovative Packers defensive coordinator. He completely overhauled the defense by switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and in the very first year he improved the total defense by 19 spots — up all the way to No. 2.

Gates: NFL.com says Vikings One Of NFL's Most Talented Teams - Daily Norseman - NFL.com has compiled their list of the most talented teams in the National Football League, and our favorite football team is prominently featured.

Brooks: Seahawks, Steelers, Panthers headline 10 most talented teams - NFL.com - The Pittsburgh Steelers might have the top running back (Le'Veon Bell) and receiver (Antonio Brown) in football, but they DON'T have the most loaded roster in the NFL. Bucky Brooks provides his top 10.

GREATEST BEARS BY THE NUMBER

In 2011, WCG's Sam Householder did an outstanding "Bears By The Number" series that a lot of folks with us today haven't read. With Sam's permission, I am sharing some of the info with you folks as it appeared in 2011, plus the link to the original post that contains more information.

For the most part, little has changed, but there are some numbers that may well be transforming from one "greatest Bear" to a new one. Current Bears wearing these numbers are: Cornelius Edison (60), Ted Larsen (62), Manny Ramerez (63) and Martin Wallace (64).

Here's Sam:

As we enter the 60s we'll be looking at more and more linemen, with a few linebackers in there too. We are quickly reaching the end of the many retired numbers by our great team. We'll have one each in the 60s, one in the 70s and that'll be all. So once again let's see who landed where for 60-64!

60 - Wally Chambers, DT (1973-77): Tough for me to say how good he was in an era before tackling and sack stats existed, however he was a three-time Pro-Bowler and a one-time First-Team All-Pro. He collected Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in '73. I imagine he must have been the Tommie Harris of his day but his stats don't seem to say he missed a lot of games (except in '77) but he played two years with Tampa after leaving Chicago,

61 - Bill George, LB (1952-65): Largely credited as inventing the middle linebacker position, George has his number 61 retired. He was elected to eight Pro-Bowls (consecutive) and was an eight-time First Team All-Pro selection. He landed in the Hall of Fame in 1974. He had 18 career INTs and 17 fumble recoveries. He began his career playing "middle guard" on the then-standard five man defensive front until he began dropping into coverage to better play the pass, this ultimately led to the creation of the 4-3 defense.

62 - Mark Bortz, OG (1983-94): Bortz was a staple of the great offensive lines of the '80s. He started 155 games for the Bears and was twice a Pro-Bowler in '88 and '90. He was a starter every year but his rookie season. He played his entire career in Chicago.

63 - Jay Hilgenberg, C (1981-91): Probably considered the greatest Bears center he was elected to seven consecutive Pro-Bowls and twice a First-Team All-Pro selection. Hilgenberg and Bortz both played at Iowa, continuing the tradition of great lineman from the Big 10 and specifically Iowa. Hilgenberg has gotten Hall of Fame talk from Bears fans but it's unlikely he will ever get serious consideration from voters. Hilgenberg played in 163 games with 130 starts.

64 - Ted Albrecht, LT (1977-81): Albrecht started 75 of his 77 Bears games at left tackle. He spent his entire career in Chicago but was never elected to any Pro-Bowls or All-Pro teams.

Click HERE for Sam's original article and comments

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