These five Bears are worthy Pro Bowl selections, and here’s why
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Sometimes you need to salute folks for jobs well done.
So here’s to the five Bears named Tuesday night to the Pro Bowl.
Take a bow, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and return man Tarik Cohen.
The five absolutely deserve inclusion in this season’s all-star game, joining the best of the best from 28 other teams. (The Bills, Buccaneers and Raiders had no selections.)
With Mack, well, what can you say? There were basically two Bears defenses in the recent past: the one before Mack arrived in September and the one after.
The one before consisted of last year’s defense that finished ninth overall and 11th against the run. This year, the Bears’ defense is third overall and second against the run.
Impact? Consider that in Mack’s first game with the Bears, he had three tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception returned 27 yards for a touchdown.
His Bears arrival changed Las Vegas oddsmakers’ formulas.
“I definitely have upgraded the Bears the most from the beginning of the season,” Don Best Sports oddsmaker Kenny White said recently.
White moved the Bears to No. 5 in his power rankings, up 20 spots from the pre-Mack era.
Fuller? He signed a huge contract last offseason, and often when that happens, the player relaxes and does the Hey-I’m-set-for-life routine.
Not Fuller. His tackling has been outstanding and his pass coverage off the charts. His seven interceptions are tied for the league lead.
Anybody who has watched Cohen in action has to be a fan. The 5-6, 179-pound water bug is every little guy who has ever had to fight huge odds and become a victor. There are players in the NFL who weigh roughly twice as much, and there are players more than a foot taller. But the runt from Bunn, North Carolina, by way of smallish, historically black North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, has shocked everyone with his running prowess against the monsters he faces each Sunday.
The former track star can do a backflip and catch a pass (check YouTube), and his 405 rushing yards (second on the Bears) and 710 receiving yards (first) show his versatility. His seven touchdowns lead the Bears in scoring (not counting Cody Parkey’s kicking).
Hicks, 6-5, 332 pounds, has been a load on the defensive line, scaring the bejeezus out of opposing quarterbacks. Even if he doesn’t get a sack, he moves the offensive line backward just with his power, opening lanes for fellow defenders.
And don’t forget he honored legendary Bears big man William ‘‘The Refrigerator” Perry when he lined up in coach Matt Nagy’s ‘‘Freezer’’ formation against the Giants and rumbled one yard for a fourth-down touchdown.
Jackson is magic on pass coverage. A big hitter, he also has the gift of intuition to anticipate opponents’ plays when lesser safeties would be standing flat-footed.
His six interceptions and one fumble recovery for 146 return yards and three touchdowns are crazy stats.
Congrats to all you worthy Pro Bowl Bears.