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    September 14, 2018 12:46 pm IST
    Roquan Smith mentioned Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary [url=http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/brent-urban-jersey-cheap]Brent Urban Jersey[/url] , Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. The Georgia standout hopes to add his name to the list of great Chicago linebackers.

    The Bears drafted Smith with the No. 8 overall pick Thursday night, adding a potential cornerstone player on defense rather than another offensive weapon for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

    The Bears have spent the offseason collecting pieces they believe will help Trubisky develop into a franchise quarterback. But when Indianapolis took Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the sixth pick, it seemed apparent Chicago would address the defense.

    "What they can expect from me when I arrive is a relentless guy on the field and off the field, going about my business the right way and going to do whatever it takes to put the Bears in the best possible situation every time I step on to the field," smith said. "And I'm beyond excited, I can't put it into words how excited I am about this opportunity to be a Chicago Bear. It's insane and I'm ready to give the city of Chicago everything I have in me."

    Smith joins a team with four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North and just one playoff appearance since the 2006 team's run to the Super Bowl. The Monsters of the Midway haven't finished with a winning record since 2012, Lovie Smith's last season as coach.

    That's something they hope Smith will help change.

    An All-American and Butkus Award winner as college football's best linebacker, he led Georgia to the national championship game last season. Though he is a bit undersized at 6-foot-1, 236 pounds, he has speed and athleticism and the coverage skills to stay on the field in passing situations. His leadership is also a plus.

    Smith figures to line up inside for the Bears. He'll also be reunited with another Bulldog in outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, drafted by Chicago with the No. 9 pick in 2016.

    Smith said he "looked up to the guy a lot" and is eager to play with him.

    "It's insane. I'm excited," he said.

    Bears general manager Ryan Pace used the phrase "fired up" three times in his opening remarks about Smith. He later used it to describe defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, too, and again when addressing the Bears' positioning for the second day.

    Fangio came into the media room prior to the draft to tell reporters he shot a hole-in-one earlier with a 9-iron from 125 yards on the fourth hole at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha [url=http://www.falconscheapstore.com/kemal-ishmael-jersey-cheap]Kemal Ishmael Jersey[/url] , Wisconsin. His day got even better when the Bears grabbed one of the top defensive players in the draft.

    "Every game you watch, this guy's flying around, making plays, you just can't help . I think in today's NFL, the linebackers are becoming more and more of this," Pace said. "Sometimes you might sacrifice a little bit of size to gain a lot of athleticism and a lot of speed, and Roquan definitely has that."

    Pace said there weren't many calls looking to move up from teams needing a quarterback. He said he wasn't interesting in trading the pick, anyway, once it became clear Smith would be there for them. Pace did acknowledge the Bears tried to add a late first-rounder.

    Chicago has one second-round pick, two fourth-rounders and one each in the fifth, sixth and seventh. The Bears don't have a third-round selection.

    The Bears fired John Fox after three seasons and replaced him with an offensive-minded coach in Matt Nagy, who spent the past 10 years working on Andy Reid's staffs in Philadelphia and Kansas City. They also gave Trubisky some new targets, most notably signing former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson.

    The Bears were still looking to boost a rather effective defense. Chicago ranked 10th overall last season despite injuries to several key players, including Floyd [url=http://www.chargerscheapstore.com/derek-watt-jersey-cheap]Derek Watt Jersey[/url] , and tied for seventh in the NFL with 42 sacks last season. But the Bears let linebackers Jerrell Freeman, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young go.

    Smith is looking forward to playing for Fangio, who in three seasons has helped transform a defense that ranked among the worst in franchise history. Fangio's predecessor was Mel Tucker, Georgia's defensive coordinator.

    Smith called Tucker a "great guy" who taught him "a lot of things." But Fangio has "coached a lot of legends," including similarly sized linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis in San Francisco.

    "I feel like those guys, we're all different in our own way, especially in being very unique. I feel like me, I feel like me and Patrick Willis both have similar speed and whatnot and both have a high IQ of the game."

    Between wrist surgery, signing a $54 million contract and nearly getting robbed, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had quite the start to the offseason.

    His next phase probably won’t create as much buzz, but it’s much more important to the team’s success in 2018.

    Bortles opened organized team activities Tuesday behind a revamped offensive line and with three new passing targets – all part of a plan to improve an offense that featured the league’s top rushing attack last season.

    ”I have always believed that when your quarterback is ahead of everyone, and the rest of the offense has to catch up, that is a pretty good thing,” coach Doug Marrone said. ”You don’t want the quarterback trying to catch up to the rest of the offensive players. I think that Blake is in a good spot as far as what he knows of the offense [url=http://www.raiderscheapstore.com/giorgio-tavecchio-jersey-cheap]Giorgio Tavecchio Jersey[/url] , what we want to do. It’s just another year.

    ”I think that’s why you see those quarterbacks that stay in these systems for a long period of time and play for a long period of time that do such a good job.”

    Bortles threw for 3,687 yards, with 21 touchdowns and a career-low 13 interceptions in 2017. He was at his best in the postseason, throwing for 594 yards and three scores without a turnover.

    Interceptions and fumbles were among Bortles’ biggest faults during his first three years in the league. He limited them down the stretch last season and eliminated them in the playoffs, helping the Jaguars reach the AFC championship game.

    ”You want to have that every game,” said Bortles, who had surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his right wrist in late January. ”Just wanting to make sure that no matter what I did I gave us a chance to win. I knew that if I didn’t turn the ball over we’re going to have a chance to win every game. That should be and it is my mindset every single game we play. I think it was only heightened in the playoffs to make sure I wasn’t the reason we couldn’t win the game.”

    The Jaguars rewarded Bortles with a three-year contract that included $26.5 million guaranteed, making him the team’s starter for at least the next two seasons.

    ”The contract stuff doesn’t really change anything about how I think or how I approach every day,” he said.

    The biggest difference, he said, is having continuity. The Jaguars returned their entire coaching staff, giving Bortles and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett a solid foundation to start from during OTAs.

    ”We talked about it this morning: Kind of taking it to the next level,” said Bortles, who didn’t have the freedom to audible early last season. ”He kind of gave me the green light to go ahead … as far as what you’re doing versus all the different looks and not just running the play called [url=http://www.raiderscheapstore.com/kelechi-osemele-jersey-cheap]Kelechi Osemele Jersey[/url] , (but) getting yourself in the best play possible.”

    Bortles will have a much different supporting cast to work with in 2018.

    Donte Moncrief and rookie DJ Chark replaced receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins stepped in for longtime starter Marcedes Lewis.

    Moncrief and Chark are expected to bring more speed to Jacksonville’s offense, which coaches are counting on to help loosen up defenses and create more room for bruising running back Leonard Fournette. The addition of All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell should help, too.

    Bortles will use the next few months to build a rapport with those newcomers. If it includes any dinners, Bortles probably will be sure to lock his truck.

    Bortles had his wallet stolen and pickup truck nearly hijacked earlier this month from teammate Brandon Linder’s driveway during an offensive line dinner. An 18-year-old Jacksonville man was arrested and charged with auto theft, auto burglary and trespassing.

    Bortles left his keys inside his unlocked truck, but other vehicles parked around it prevented the man from driving away.

    ”He checked my truck out a little bit and left it nice and clean for me,” joked Bortles, who has since teamed up with local police to help prevent automobile burglaries. ”It was all right. … Glad to be back playing football, running around. It feels good to kind of be back to some familiarity.”



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