Chicago Sun-Times

Answers to your questions

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1)
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.

2)
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?
Commenter: Brando

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.

3)
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.

4)
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?
Commenter: Zach

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.

5)
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.

6)
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?
Commenter: Ryan

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.

7)
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.
Commenter: dahlillama

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.

8)
Q:
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.

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8 Comments

You can't fool me Sean, I see you fo what you are. I know whats really going on and No I am not that Super Stud greatest Bear fan ever ummmm the evil Creighton, doing a characture of Brando after Brando once again insinuated that you are a Minnesota Viking fan here to defame the Bears. I know the truth and I am going to let all Bear fans no the truth.

Banded together from remote nfl teams from around the Galaxy are 13 of the most sinster villians of all time The Legion of Doom: Jay Cutler(Denver), Jerry Angelo(Tampa), Lovie Smith(Tampa), Mike Tice (Minnesota), Rod Marinelli(Detroit, Tampa), Mike Martz (Detroit, SF, STL), Bob Babich(STL), Jon Hoke (Hou), Dave Toub (Philly), Julius Peppers (Carolina), Des Clark (Den), Roberto Garza (Atl), and their Leader Sean Jensen former beat reporter Minnesota Vikings. Dedicated to a single objective. The conquest of the Bears.

You probably think you have won, but I got news for you pal. One group will dear to challenge your intergalactic threat to my Bears.

THE SUPER FRIENDS: In the great hall of Halas, there are assembled the worlds 4 greatest Bear Fans. Created from the cosmic legends of the universe; Super Brando, Wonder Kevin, Crapton and Robin, also staring the Wonder Twins Tripper and Timmer. Their mission? To fight injustice, to right that which is wrong and to serve all Bear kind. We are the Super Friends.

Are theme song
http://www.televisiontunes.com/Super_Friends.html

Wow! I just laughed out loud for a while, reading your comments, Brando. That is funny stuff. Very creative.

A good way to transition into the weekend.

Take care.

Sean

Hey Sean,

I think you do a good job on reporting on the Bears. Keep up the good work and welcome to the Chicago area!

Chicago will probably keep four running backs, we know Matt Forte and Chester Taylor are locks, and after giving up a 7th rounder in next years draft, you gotta think newcomer Harvey Unga has a pretty good chance of sticking, barring a total meltdown during camp. Also, Unga might have the size, 240lbs, to help out down on the goal line, and the fact he's got soft hands, which too me, is probably the main reason Angelo brought him in. Unga's probably gonna be given a pretty good chance to stick.

That 4th spot is gonna be the real battle, right now you gotta think Garrett Wolfe has the edge over both Kahlil Bell and Brandon Minor, if for nothing else, his ability on special teams. The knock on both Bell and Minor is neither have blazing speed, their both 4.6 40 guys. The main knock however, may be the fact neither player has much experience as a receiver out of the backfield. Kahlil Bell only caught 29 passes out of 35 games at UCLA, and Brandon Minor only caught 20 passes out of 43 games at Michigan. I still think Minor could upseat Wolfe, obviously what he does on special teams will be key to him making the final 53 man roster over Wolfe, but if the kid can make some plays as a runner, Chicago might keep him as a 4th option. At Michigan Minor didn't put up big time rushing totals, but part of that is due to Michigan going to the spread the last two seasons and Minor not having the opportunity to run the ball as much, but when given a chance to run the ball in the Big Ten, Minor avg 5.2 a carry on 103 att in 2008 along with 9 rushing tds, and had a 5.2 avg again in 2009 on 96 carries along with 8 tds. Its gonna be interesting to see how he does this summer when the hitting starts GO BEARS!!

Already talking final roster spots Kevin? 4 RB's? Maybe.

Unga is a stretch since he was a supplemental pick. He will have to show a lot in practice. I bet he leaves with the first wave of cuts. I bet Wolfe, and Minor get kept.

The question is who is the starting FB, and left guard?

I think the Bears will keep 3QBs, 5 RB's (FB + HB), 3 TE's, 8 OL, 6 WR's, 9 DL, 6 LB's, 10 Secondary. That is 50. The last 3 go to the best special teams performers.

Enjoyed the write-up. My bet is on Harvey Unga. He and Matt Forte will make the best tandem in the league. Just married, new baby, both left college early. If Unga puts all of his focus and drive into succeeding, he's a lock to start in my opinion.

Hey Ryan, by best three special team performers, I hope you mean the Punter, Kicker and Long Snapper, because without them you don't have a roster.

5 Running Backs isn't going to happen in my mind, but I don't know anything more than anyone else. Its either 3 RB +1 FB or 4 RB and a TE used as an H-Back instead of keeping a FB.

Martz does not use a Fullback. He uses an H-Back just like Gibbs did. He is looking for a blocker who can catch the ball from time to time. Early in the off season Lovie hinted that this might be a spot for Olsen, but sense the primary job is blocking it probably will not be Olsen. Williams was brought in for this job as well but his blocking is probably not up to speed, so the Bears are still looking for their James Hodgins.

These are the extra blockers the offense needs for all the 5 and 7 step drops.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on July 16, 2010 3:38 PM.

Hester to host two local football camps this weekend was the previous entry in this blog.

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