Got an email looking for the Q&A answers. We published them online Friday morning. But here they are, as well.
Q: Every year during the combine and draft a huge deal is made of 40-yard dash times – but then I never hear about times for veterans. Do the Bears time veterans to see if they’ve lost speed? Last year I wonder if Matt Forte bulked up a little before the season but then lost some speed.
A: A player’s 40-yard time is very important during the combine. In fact, many rookies – or their agents – spend thousands so they can shave precious hundredths of seconds off their time. A receiver or running back needs to run in at least the 4.4 range, for instance, to have any chance to be taken in the first two rounds.
But most teams don’t check 40 times after the combine. The Bears are among those teams, I’m told, that don’t bother.
Q: If Nick Roach, Hunter Hillenmeyer, and Pisa Tinoisamoa all perform equally well during training camp and in the pre-season, who do you think will enter the season as the starting strong side linebacker?
A: Great job spelling everyone’s name right, Mr. Cox. All things being equal, I would think Tinoisamoa has the edge because he’s started 85 games, including in St. Louis, when head coach Lovie Smith was the defensive coordinator. He’s athletic, and he’s versatile.
Roach (24 starts) did a fine job last season, as well, and it’ll be his job to lose.
Q: Do you think (J’Marcus) Webb has a chance to start at left guard between (Chris Williams) and good ole’ Olin (Kreutz)? Mike Tice talked about his strength and the lack of a good push in the interior contributed to the decrease in Forte’s rushing yards.
A: No, I don’t think he’s ready to make a push for the starting job. He’s raw, and he’s the sort of project Tice loves to get his hands on.
Another reader asked if Lance Louis could get the left guard job. He’s obviously plenty athletic (he was a tight end in college), but he too may need some more time to develop. In addition, the Bears may view Louis more as a right guard.
Josh Beekman and Johan Asiata could have the inside track at left guard, but I also wouldn’t rule out a veteran. Justin Smiley, I believe, would definitely be someone the Bears check out, when he’s eventually released by the Miami Dolphins.
Q: We drafted Major Wright to play free safety and got Chris Harris back to play strong safety.Are the coaches stupid enough to play Harris at free safety and Danieal Manning at strong? I mean we all know how they love to shuffle players into spots they are not suited for. Major and Harris needs to start and if they need to get Manning on the field then put him at nickel. I still think they could get some value and trade him as a return specialist. With Knox and Hester, Manning won’t be returning kicks either. So why not trade him?
A: Tom, don’t hold back. Geez. The safety positions in the Tampa Two are relatively interchangeable. But, it seems the Bears do want Manning at strong and Chris at free. But, I believe the Bears are going to give everyone a chance to make a push for the starting spots. Guys like Al Afalava, Josh Bullocks and Craig Steltz will get a shot, which is why they traded Kevin Payne to the St. Louis Rams.
Sure, it might be great to be able to deal Manning. But it’s hard to get good value for a versatile player like him, who doesn’t hasn’t asserted himself at one particular position.
Q: Since the Bears have made no significant moves on the offensive line how can you expect an improved offense and who is available or will be available soon to help?
A: What do you mean? They drafted Webb in the seventh round!
As I mentioned earlier, I do think the Bears will explore veterans who are released in the next month and a half. But, in the meantime, they want to see what they have in-house. They want to see where Asiata is at, and they’ll give veterans like Beekman and perhaps even Kevin Shaffer a chance to compete for playing time. They believe Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale can be effective tackles and that Kreutz still has quality snaps in him.
In addition, they believe in Mike Tice, who is known for his teaching and motivating skills.
Q: I really liked Alex Brown and wish they kept him, but he wasn’t a sack machine. Do you think that we can expect either (Mark) Anderson, or (Israel Idonije) being the starter and have the same type of production with six sacks, maybe more? I mean six sacks is an average season for average players in my opinion
A: I think the Bears would be disappointed if both Anderson and Idonije both don’t have six sacks. If Tommie Harris and Julius Peppers play up to their abilities, then whoever is in the other two spots on the d-line will have plenty of chances to make plays.
Q: Do you think the Bears should trade Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Devin Hester, for Calvin Johnson? The Bears offense would be much better and the Bears would not lose too much on defense.
A: Very interesting question, Terrance. Calvin Johnson – in my mind – is one of the top three or four receivers in the NFL, so I can certainly see why you would want him. But, the Lions would never go for that trade. On paper, it seems fair because they would get two Pro Bowl linebackers and a versatile receiver/ returner. But they have young players they believe in, and they wouldn’t want to get rid of Johnson, who has only flashed his potential.
Besides, I disagree with your point that the Bears defense wouldn’t lose that much on defense. Briggs and Urlacher are two of the top players, and they don’t currently have the personnel to fill the potential void.
Q: This really has nothing to do with football but, the “C” the Cincinnati Reds use as their logo looks just like the Bears “C”. Isn’t that a copyright infringement? Wouldn’t the Bears have rights to it because they are older?
A: There’s been a “long-standing history of both clubs using marks in ways that would not cause confusion between the two teams,” according to a league spokesman.
Q: Who is the early favorite for the dreaded “medical red shirt” season? I would think smart money is on Webb.
That’s a fair guess, given how raw he is. But, I think you’d also have to look at cornerback Joshua Moore and defensive end Corey Wootton. The Bears have expressed optimism about Wootton, but you have to be somewhat skeptical if he’ll be 100 percent by training camp.
Q: Who do you see making the roster at the WR position? Hester, Knox, Aromashodu, and Bennett seem to be locks. That leaves Davis and Iglesias and possibly Barnes to fight out that last spot. I can’t see them keeping six wide receivers on the roster.
A: To be honest, I think it’s wide open. I think your read on the top four is solid, but I do think the other two spots are open. Rashied Davis might actually be a solid fit for Martz’s offense, but he’ll really have to earn a spot to beat out Juaquin Iglesias, who was a third-round pick last year. The Bears don’t want to waste such a high pick.
It is not uncommon, though, for a team to have six receivers on their roster, especially since Hester and Knox are return specialists. But Barnes has to make quite a case to make that happen. That’s assuming the Bears don’t add another veteran before the season starts.
Q: Speaking of the Saints, what are the chances of Mike Martz taking a look at their playbook and using some of the stuff they have for Reggie Bush with Devin Hester? Not the running plays per se, but more specifically those swing passes that gets Reggie out in the flat alone with everyone on the defense winding up chasing him to the endzone.
A: Jon, I think you are definitely on the money with that. Martz did an excellent job of lining Marshall Faulk everywhere and just getting him the ball, so he could use his elusiveness and speed to get around defenders. I thought that was something the Bears didn’t do enough of last year.
Given their investment in Hester, I’m sure the Bears will do everything possible to empower him to make them all look good.