Q: Sean, do you think Chris Williams has the potential to develop into a Pro Bowl LT this season? I thought he showed tremendous promise and improvement, once he was moved over from the right side to the left side...coincidentally, it seemed like the pass protection was much better in the last few games of the season while he was the starter at LT.
Commenter: Michael S.
A: Chris Williams was the 14th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. To get drafted that high, an offensive tackle has to have ideal size and athleticism.
Williams has shown flashes of his potential, but he also hasn't shown any consistency. After playing on the right side, the Bears shifted him to what they consider his natural side - the left - and believe he can thrive there.
One NFC personnel executive told me Tuesday that there's no question Williams has the necessary athleticism to be an elite player. But, the executive told me that Williams obviously hasn't played consistently enough to make him believe he'll get to that level.
It doesn't happen often, especially along the offensive line, but players sometimes do make the Pro Bowl very early in their careers. Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins and Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns did so as rookies in 2007 and 2008, respectively, although one was the No. 1 overall pick and the other was No. 3.
But Williams is entering his third NFL season, and I think there are several factors that could help him have a breakout season. Most notably, his quarterback (Jay Cutler) has already been a Pro Bowl selection. Pro Bowl offensive tackles often protect Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
Second, the Bears run offense should be much improved, behind Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. Pro Bowl offensive linemen often block for Pro Bowl running backs.
Lastly, Williams has spent the entire off-season working at left tackle, and the Bears have anointed him the starter, empowering him to really focus on the position.
Q: Sean, do you think Brett Favre will be back in purple this season? If so will you root for Da Bears or the Vikings when they play twice this year?
A: I know I covered the Minnesota Vikings for 10 years but that does not mean that I'm a "fan" of the team.
I haven't been a "fan" of any particular NFL team since the late 1980s, when I rooted for the San Francisco 49ers. After I emigrated from South Korea, I lived in California for several years and became a fan of 49ers like Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Roger Craig. It didn't hurt that they were winning championships, either.
But then those players retired and finished their careers elsewhere, and my interest in a particular team faded.
I do, however, absolutely love the NFL, and I enjoy watching all of the games. I feel fortunate to write about the league and all of its characters, and I look forward to covering the Bears for such a loyal and passionate fan base.
Getting back to your original question, I do fully expect Brett Favre to return this season. He had ankle surgery, and all of the subtle - and not so subtle - signs this off-season point toward him playing again. Even his comments at the ESPYs Wednesday seemed as if he was leaning toward making another championship run.
I'd be shocked, honestly, if he didn't play. I suspect he's only hemming and hawing to try and get out of two-a-days in Mankato, where the Vikings hold training camp.
Q: Since the Bears are technically "on break" before training camp, how many of the players are still at Halas Hall working out and having meetings? I know they are not supposed to have formal meetings or anything, but many teams around the league have informal sessions, especially when there is a new system being installed.
Commenter: Joe F.
A: A handful of players are working out at Halas Hall but the vast majority are taking a break before the training camp storm. Then, per NFL rules, there is a 10-day "dead" period prior to the report date of training camp, where no coach can be in the presence of any player.
Players, however, are allowed to work out at the facility, on their own during that time.
Q: What is stopping Danieal Manning from capably filling the free safety position (with Harries at SS)? We all know he has the range and athleticism. Word is he has bad 'instincts' but hasn't four years of NFL experience helped with that?
A: Manning remains one of the team's most athletic players, and he's showcased his versatility throughout his tenure. But, that athleticism and versatility has actually hurt him.
He's been pressed into different roles and that has prevented him from really focusing on a particular position. Despite what many believe, the Bears think Manning is better suited to play strong safety, where he's currently penciled in as the starter. The Bears want to give him a fair chance to keep the job.
Meanwhile, veteran Chris Harris is atop the depth chart at free safety.
But, there are some players behind them anxious to make an impression. Craig Steltz, I'm told, can play both safety spots, and he could be a factor. Al Afalava, Josh Bullocks have started NFL games, and third-round pick Major Wright also can't be discounted.
Q: Sean I see Garrett Wolfe as a 1,000+ yard back - if only the Bears give him a chance! Remember how he led the nation in rushing in college? Total beast! Let him do his thing!
Commenter: Kevin B.
A: Kevin, are you Garrett's agent? Just kidding.
I don't think you can get too caught up with his numbers at Northern Illinois. They have to be kept in perspective, based on the level of competition.
The Bears may have been a bit overzealous, selecting him in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Other than Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, the other running backs drafted from 2007 haven't really distinguished themselves.
Wolfe's had a few moments. But, overall, not enough to compel the coaching staff to figure out ways to get him the ball.
The team, though, hasn't given up on him, and they still believe he has all the tools to be a productive player. But with so many players at the position now, Wolfe will really have to step up in training camp to remain on the roster.
Q: Regarding the league's thought of adding two regular season games: first of all, I am against it. I think there would definitely be more injuries, and the quality of the game would suffer slightly more at the end of the season and the playoffs.
Would there still be only one bye week?
My suggestion is cutting off one pre-season game, and starting the season one week earlier. Keep it at 16 games, and have two bye weeks per team.
This would, more than likely, prevent some injuries, and make the last month of the season that much better.
What do you think?
A: I think four pre-season games is overkill. More games, of any sort, mean more injuries. Cut it down to two. Veterans certainly wouldn't have a problem with it, since all players get paid the same amount of money during the pre-season.
While covering the Vikings, I often watched them spend two practices working against the Kansas City Chiefs. I think players can be evaluated in that setting, so maybe teams could figure out ways to partner up with another club for a morning practice and then have an evening scrimmage at a college.
As for the regular season, I'm a traditionalist, so I'd rather keep 16 games, with one bye. But, if the owners and players agree that 18 games would be better, than I think that's something worth pursuing. Again, many players wouldn't mind because it means more paychecks.
Q: Now that the Bears have the new supplemental draft BYU tailback Harvey Unga what are your thoughts as to what if anything he will bring to the table for the Bears?
Is he a superb special teams guy? 6-1 and 244 pounds is pretty good size; he may pack a load when he hits someone. Who knows? With 4.65 speed, he may be a good outside linebacker candidate.
A: The Bears visited with Unga at Halas Hall, and they came away impressed.
They think he's bright, and he was extremely productive at BYU. Most important, perhaps, he brings a different flavor, so to speak, to their group. The five running backs currently on the roster weigh between 185 pounds (Wolfe) to 218 pounds (Matt Forte), according to the team's official roster.
Unga is almost 30 pounds heavier. He's obviously not as fast, but he shows potential as a bruising back. In addition, the team's encouraged by his ability to catch passes.
Besides, I'm not convinced that the Bears will keep a fullback just for the sake of having one.
Unga seems excited about the opportunity, though, and he embraces the idea of making the team via special teams.
Please explain to all of us why everyone is so "high" on the Green Bay Packers this year. They benefited last year from a third place schedule, their special teams rank near the bottom of the league, their offensive line gave up 51 sacks last year, their secondary is old and often injured, they have no linebacker depth, their receivers are old, they didn't have one significant win last year and lost twice to Minnesota with two "gifts" from the Bears or they could have been at .500, and their so called "great, young defense" got trounced in the playoffs against Arizona, showing us all what they really are. Help, I don't get it!
Commenter name: Omay
A: Aaron Rodgers.