Q: Devin Aromashodu proved that he is a worthy No. 1 receiver last season. So why is it that the Bears still think that Devin Hester is their No. 1? Aromashodu outperformed Hester in the limited time he was on the field and was one of Cutler's favorite targets. --- dahlillama
A: I wouldn't worry about who the No. 1 receiver is going to be before the season starts. The No. 1 receiver is the guy Jay Cutler throws to the most, the guy who is open the most, the player who catches the most passes. They can anoint Rashied Davis the No. 1 receiver. It doesn't mean that he will be.
Q: How has rookie WR Freddie Barnes been performing? Do you think he'll make the team? --- Giskard
A: He has been the best of the rookie receivers. Whether or not he makes the team may come down to his ability to play special teams. Rashied Davis is a valuable special teams player and therefore likely has a better chance of keeping his roster spot.
Q: Marcus Harrison sat out the recent mini-camp because he was "ill." Is that code for "fat and out of shape" or did he really have the sniffles? ---Big Bear
A: He was definitely ill. Here's what Marinelli said about Harrison at the minicamp: "He's a big, athletic man who can really move. He did some nice things last year and next year he'll be doing the same thing again. He's going to take a step. We've got some inside players."
Q: How have last years draft picks Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton looked so far in camp? Are they making any progress and do you see them being contributors this year? --- Raj Singh
A: I don't want to sound like a broken record, but it's impossible to judge defensive linemen before they get the pads on. Personally, I don't know what to think about these guys because Melton was hurt last season and Gilbert only played briefly and didn't make much of an impact. The Bears need these guys to be players, though. Whether or not they will be is a question for later.
Q: Who is Johan Asiata? I have heard Mike Tice rave about this guy as a possible starting left guard, but I know little about him. Do you have any impressions of this guy? --- Rod Mooney
A: He is an undrafted free agent out of UNLV who was signed after the 2009 draft. The 6-foot-4, 300 played left guard and right tackle at UNLV, where he was named honorable mention all-Mountain West after his senior year. Asiata, who was born in New Zealand and did not play high school football, is considered a project with a lot of upside potential. He saw snaps at left guard during a recent minicamp and is expected to compete for the starting spot at left tackle during training camp. As far as having an impression of him during the recent minicamp, sorry. It's impossible to learn much about linemen before they put the pads on. He's worth watching closely when camp opens, however.
Q: What's the word on Kahlil Bell? I thought he did a great job of running the ball last season, at times he looking better than Forte. What do you think the Bears will do with him? --- Elvin
A: He'll be the third running back behind Matt Forte and Chester Taylor unless he gets beaten out by rookie free agent Brandon Minor.
Q: I was looking at roster spots 54 through 80. Do teams always carry that many wide receivers? Do they need that many to run a training camp? If wide receivers are a strength of this team, why carry so many?
A: The Bears kept six wide receivers in 2009. It's possible they could keep seven this year since Mike Martz's offense calls for a lot of multiple-receiver formations. It will depend on which players best contribute on special teams, how many tight ends they keep and myriad other factors. Six is a typical number, however. A lot of the players on the roster now will not survive training camp, obviously, but they need a lot to be able to put multiple-receiver formations on the field with the first, second and third teams during training camp.
Q: With Oshiomogho Atogwe becoming an official free agent do you think the Bears have any interest? I'm afraid we might be in the same situation next year at free safety. --- Timothy Miller
A: I've gotten a ton of questions about Atogwe, so Sean Jensen and I checked it out. From what we hear, the Bears are not among the teams interested in acquiring the unrestricted free agent. Evidently, they feel confident about their safety situation as it currently stands. Obviously, it's been a problem area for several years. I don't completely understand Smith's logic of having Danieal Manning play strong safety during a recent minicamp. I think he's better at nickel. I would think that Chris Harris would be the starter at that spot with everybody else competing to be the starter at free safety, but I don't get paid $5.5 million a year to coach the Bears.
Q: Do you think Jay Cutler will lead the NFL in interceptions again this year? --- R.Daneel
A: The Bears better hope he doesn't if they want to make the playoffs. As for me, no, I don't think he will. Martz has worked wonders with quarterbacks and I'm convinced he'll have a profound impact on Cutler's career. Like Brett Favre, Cutler will always throw interceptions because he has the same gunslinger mentality but he won't finish with as many as he had last year because the offensive line should be improved, the receivers have more experience and Matt Forte and Chester Taylor should help give the offense a more potent running game.
Q: What are your thoughts and what is the common belief among NFL pundits as to the Bears defense in 2010, Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator and the style of play the Bears defense will have? --- dahlillama
A: I don't think there's any debate. Lovie Smith is clearly a proponent of the cover-2. Marinelli's background is in the cover-2. Marinelli was who Smith wanted to run his defense when he first came to Chicago. They will run the cover-2. How aggressive Marinelli is will be largely determined by how much pressure they're getting up front. If the front four is putting pressure on the quarterback there's no reason to blitz much. If not, expect more blitzing.