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Musick: Lynch puts exclamation mark(s) on Bears' weekend

Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014 12:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, May 11, 2014 11:52 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (left) and safety Jimmie Ward shake hands Aug. 31 after NIU defeated Iowa in Iowa City. Lynch is expected to join the Bears as an undrafted free agent.

LAKE FOREST – The Bears had made all eight of their draft picks.

The annual title of Mr. Irrelevant – given to the last player selected in the final round at No. 256 overall – had gone to some safety from Memphis.

And then it happened.

“BEARDOWN!!!”

The all-caps scream came from Jordan Lynch’s Twitter account.

All of us knew what it meant.

It meant this summer just got a lot more interesting. It meant that training camp practices on August afternoons in Bourbonnais just became must-see sports theater. It meant that Northern Illinois’ star quarterback was going to the Bears as an undrafted free agent to compete for a coveted spot on the 53-man roster.

What say you, Bears general manager Phil Emery?

“We’re not allowed to comment until they’re signed,” Emery said with a smile when he was asked about Lynch’s happy tweet. “So I’ll just say that Jordan had a really good visit here, and he expressed a strong desire to be a Chicago Bear.”

And …?

“We both let each other know that if things didn’t work out in the draft and he was still there,” Emery said, “we would love for him to be here.”

OK, got it.

Some final paperwork has to be completed, but Lynch is headed to play for his hometown team. Expect the Bears to announce a full list of undrafted free agents Sunday once all of the agreements have been finalized.

Now, for the fun stuff.

What position is Lynch going to play, anyway?

“I think he’s a really fine runner,” Emery said when asked about Lynch’s attributes. “I think the fact he can throw and throw with accuracy in a short area is good, too. I think you want as many athletes who can do as many things as possible, and he certainly presents options that way.

“But the thing that I was really impressed with – I saw him live against Western Michigan. I think he reset his [rushing] record that night, I think about 320, 326 yards, just his skill as a runner.

“He’s got a great set of eyes. He’s very instinctive, especially for a quarterback between the tackles. He knows where to find the soft spots and take that little sidestep and keep grinding forward and keep moving forward while he’s making his moves. He’s got really good contact balance. He doesn’t go down easy.

“I like all those things.”

Clearly, Emery is a big fan of Lynch. He could have mumbled a boring answer about how Lynch was a productive player, but he went into deep, specific, glowing detail.

It turns out that Emery was about 3 feet from the pin with his recollection of Lynch’s monster game Nov. 26 against Western Michigan. Lynch rushed for 321 yards that night, breaking the record of 316 yards that he had set against Central Michigan.

Yes, the Bears have a franchise quarterback named Jay Cutler. Yes, the Bears have a veteran backup in Jordan Palmer and a rookie prospect in David Fales.

But Lynch is dynamic, and Bears coach Marc Trestman is creative.

Could Lynch find a spot on the Bears’ roster as a running back-slash-passing threat? It’s absolutely worth a shot.

Trestman said he was eager for next week’s rookie mini-camp, where all of the team’s new players will hit the practice fields and start their professional careers. Rookie mini-camp starts Friday and continues through Sunday.

“I’m excited for them to meet their teammates, as well, because we have a great locker room here, guys that I think are going to be welcomed,” Trestman said. “We’ve got a lot of great mentors in the locker room that are going to help these guys move along very quickly. I know the coaches are excited to get together with them as well.”

Everyone is excited.

Or, as Lynch would say: BEARDOWN!!!

Shaw Media sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at tmusick@shawmedia.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.

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