Joniak: Bears Looking Forward To Return Of 'Weapon' Anthony Miller

Jeff Joniak
August 26, 2019 - 6:28 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – WBBM Newsradio’s Jeff Joniak, the play-by-play announcer for Chicago Bears games, offers these observations leading up to this week’s final preseason contest and next week’s home opener at Soldier Field:

--It is the final week of the preseason and a last chance for about 45 players to make a name for themselves and win a job here or somewhere else in the league.  That is part of the prep for the Titans on Thursday. The other part is getting ready for the Packers on Sept. 5.

--Ten days out, Head Coach Matt Nagy has a template for preparing for that NFL opener. He was Kansas City’s offensive coordinator in the 2017 league opener at Gillette Stadium when the Chiefs ripped New England 42-27, piling up 537 yards. “I learned a lot through coach (Andy) Reid on how he did it,” Nagy said. “He tricked a lot of coaches in certain ways. It was pretty good, so I’ve used a little bit of that.” He isn’t giving specifics.

--Aaron Lynch (shoulder) and Anthony Miller (ankle) did participate in practice for the first time in a long time. Miller missed much of the month after his recovery from offseason surgery. If he gets the green light, Nagy doesn’t see anything holding Miller back.  “When he’s on the field, he’s a play maker,” Nagy said. “He’s a weapon for us. We’ve got to make sure that he stays inside that playbook and he understands the details of this offense.”

--Miller said he will be ready for Week One, dismissing the ankle injury but also reflective about playing through a labrum tear last season. He feels mentally he has cleared some hurdles. “Especially since I know exactly what I am doing each and every play,” Miller said.  “When you’re good mentally out there you can play much faster, and I think you’re gonna see a different me this year.”

--Tackle T.J. Clemmings (right quad) is out for the rest of the season. Rashaad Cowrd is not ready to practice this week due to his bad elbow. It means Cornelius Lucas is in a strong position to lock up a roster spot, but don’t discount Notre Dame rookie Alex Bars. He was very good on short notice in the win over the Colts Saturday night.

--Nagy suggested Bars will continue to get snaps at left tackle, despite never playing the position at Notre Dame. However, in 2016 Bars made 12 starts at right tackle for Bears offensive line coach Harry Heistand with the Irish.

--Nagy feels there is a battle going on for the backup corner spots, though he feels good about his third and fourth corners. At this point they are Buster Skrine, the starting nickel cornerback, and second-year backup Kevin Tolliver. Thursday’s game will reveal more about John Franklin, Michael Joseph, and rookie Clifton Duck. The Bears will also be monitoring the waiver wire.

--“I know Chase (Daniel) better than anybody,” Nagy said. “It’s not an easy deal that he gets put into every preseason. That’s part of being a backup, but in these type of situations everyone expects you to be the best ever.” Nagy calls Daniel a coach on the field and makes things a lot easier on him as the head coach.

--Leonard Floyd has a big fan in Nagy. “Leonard hasn’t skipped a beat,” the coach says. “He’s very, very eager to learn every single day. He’s a sponge. He wants every little piece of advice he can get. He’s very focused, very driven, smart player. So now, it’s just a matter of him producing and doing it this year. I see a lot of great things from him.”

--Skrine is in an ideal situation for the first time in his nine-year career. His body feels great. He has never felt this good entering a season. He is also playing behind the best front seven in his career. He likes to play fast and aggressive, and he is an ideal fit in defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s scheme.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.