Bears kick off historic NFL campaign with Super hopes

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As the NFL celebrates its 100th season, the Chicago Bears fittingly take the field against their arch-rival Green Bay Packers Thursday night at Soldier Field with lofty ambitions.

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While the sting has subsided from last January’s heartbreaking home playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the memories remain. The Bears have spent the offseason searching for a kicker and retooling a running game that figures to be prominent beginning with the season opener.

Chicago returns almost all of last year’s key players that brought an NFC North Division championship to the Windy City, including a stellar defense headlined by

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All-Pro Khalil Mack and Pro Bowlers Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, and Eddie Jackson. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano’s transition to taking over for Vic Fangio appears seamless.

On offense, Mitch Trubisky will be asked to take the next step in his quarterback progression, namely displaying the ability to go from a caretaker role to a dangerous playmaker. Entering his third year, Trubisky has shown glimpses of becoming a dual threat. He’ll be joined in the backfield by newcomers Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery, though Montgomery should become the feature back early in the year given his skill set.

Against the backdrop of pomp and circumstance with the NFL’s centennial season, the Bears face a nemesis in Aaron Rodgers and the Packers that has been tough to beat. Green Bay comes into the opener with a fresh look, as former Titans offensive coordinator and Sean McVay disciple Matt LaFleur takes over the head coaching reigns from longtime fixture Mike McCarthy.

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Bears supplement offense with adds of Daniels, Miller

WR Anthony Miller, Memphis

WR Anthony Miller, Memphis

The Chicago Bears added Iowa C James Daniels and Memphis WR Anthony Miller during Friday night’s second-round of the NFL Draft.

Daniels was acquired with the original selection of Chicago, the 39th overall pick.  The two-year starter is a skilled technician with sound movement skills and hand placement.  A plug and play lineman, he can lock onto defenders and drive them backwards, yet is solid in pass protection, mirroring defenders. Daniels projects to center but has the versatility, should the Bears prefer, to slide over to Guard.

One of the top centers in the collegiate talent pool and expected to go in the first round, Daniels gives the Bears the flexibility to mix/match with Cody Whitehair.  Better positioned at guard, where he can utilize his full skill set and power, Whitehair would make an excellent mentor for Danels. READ MORE

Five Bears thoughts prior to Eagles kick

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Losers of three straight, the Chicago Bears (3-7) head into high cotton on the road at the NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) on Sunday.

Here are five things to watch and think about ahead of Sunday’s tilt.

1. The continued development of Mitch Trubisky….  Each week, the Bears catch a glimpse of the traits that made Trubisky the second overall pick in last April’s draft. In last week’s loss to Detroit, his fourth down scramble and subsequent dart to Dontrelle Inman put the team in position to attempt a possible game-tying field goal.

Trubisky will be challenged on the road against a stingy Eagles defense. His ability to maintain his composure and play through adversity should make him better in the long run.

2. Can the Bears absorb the loss of Leonard Floyd?…Floyd had developed into a better all-around defender in year two, and his absence depletes a unit already shy of impact players.  Though his sack numbers were down, Floyd’s speed and range made him a player offenses had to scheme against.  READ MORE