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Q: Lovie Smith is clearly a big proponent of a strong rotation on the defensive line. With Dusty Dvoracek winding up on injured reserve again last season (he's the Mike Brown of defensive tackles) and the Bears thin on rotation depth at tackle (Tommie Harris and Marcus Harrison are both three techniques and Anthony Adams is undersized at nose tackle), could Jerry Angelo surprise everyone and and take a tackle early in the draft? Both Peria Jerry and Ziggy Hood fit the scheme. Hard to justify with so many other needs but I wouldn't be surprised. 
Kirk W., Chicago 

A: I think the problem here is that Jerry and Hood could both be first-round picks. Jerry could be long gone before the Bears select at No. 18. There is a difference between looking for a tackle early in the draft and going for one with your first pick in the draft. I happen to think the line got better when Adams was used more last season, and certainly some line depth was compromised with Israel Idonije moving back outside to end. He's versatile enough to remain a swing player.


We've got the vehicle gassed up, an empty notepad and plenty of questions so we're ready to depart for Indianapolis on Thursday. This is our final installment of Four Down Territory for the week. Check back often for updates from the combine. We'll get back to the mailbag starting Monday.

Q: I cannot claim this as my own possibility but I found it intriguing enough to share with you. One of the mock draft sites (Draft Tek) has engineered a hypothetical trade between the Rams and the Bears. The Bears send No. 18 (1st round) and Nate Vasher to the Rams in exchange for Torry Holt and, No. 35 (2nd round) and No. 66 (3rd round). I like Vasher even though he had a down year last year. But this trade possibility is intriguing. Yes, Holt is aging but he has a bit left in the tank and would give the Bears some much-needed help. It opens up a spot for Corey Graham opposite Charles Tillman. And, it goes along with Jerry Angelo's modus operandi of trading down for additional picks. Thoughts?

Bill S., Oneida, Ill.

A: I don't think there is any question Holt still has some game left in him. He'll turn 33 before the season begins but we're talking about a player who has missed only two games over the course of his distinguished career that could one day land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's not the vertical threat he once was, but he's adapted and can still be productive even if he was pushed aside somewhat by a coaching staff hellbent on developing rookie Donnie Avery.


Plenty of football action already today, so we'll dive right into Four Down Territory.

Q: So I hear the Dallas Cowboys want Terrell Owens out of town. Either they cut him or trade him. I've heard speculation they could take as little as a third-round draft pick for him. Give me the odds of the Bears being players for his services.

James T., Charleston, Ill.

A: First, the Cowboys and Jerry Jones have to arrive at the conclusion that they're better off without T.O. than they are putting up with his antics and self-destructive behavior. Based on how Roy Williams played after Dallas paid a high ransom to get him from Detroit, that might be a tough decision to make. But Owens has become an unbelievably divisive force there, proof that problems ran much deeper than his run-ins with former wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Todd Haley. That was the vibe you used to get, that T.O. didn't get along with Haley, which was dead on. Haley exited for Arizona in 2007 and T.O. has been at odds with everyone else since. What Jones is witnessing is the window of opportunity slowly closing on his team. He's moving into a shiny new $1 billion building and nothing sells quite like winning.

Popular opinion is growing that Owens will not be back in Dallas. Peter King weighed in on the issue Monday, writing "I think everyone doing free-agent lists should add one name in pencil: Terrell Owens. I'll bet you a month's worth of lattes he'll be free in six weeks." He's not the only national writer thinking that way. In fact, there are more who consider T.O. a goner than think he'll play with a star on the side of his helmet in 2009.

Just about three weeks in advance of free agency the Bears have made their first move of the offseason by adding quarterback Brett Basanez, who was available because he was a practice-squad player for the Carolina Panthers last season. He didn't have to wait until free agency to sign. There will be plenty of news and speculation to work through as we move closer to the opening of the NFL shopping season on Feb. 27.

Obviously, the moves by the club at the start of free agency will help shape decisions that will be made come the draft. Here's the latest mock draft by Todd McShay and Scouts Inc. at He's got the Bears drafting Percy Harvin in the first round with the 18th pick. We don't see any way the Bears consider Harvin. He'd give them a second Devin Hester. He's a little like Hester in that he's not a proven commodity at wide receiver. He spent time as a running back last season at Florida. He's got an injury history. After drafting Chris Williams in the first round last season, general manager Jerry Angelo is not likely to roll the dice on a player with medical issues. They don't need a Hester clone as much as they need a gamebreaking receiver with size. I'm not sure that player will exist where they're drafting, but that's an issue for another day.

The mock goes through the second round and there they have the Bears grabbing Oregon center/guard Max Unger. It's a good bet the Bears go for an interior lineman in the first four rounds of the draft but it's a better bet they go for a tackle first. The draft will give us plenty to discuss moving forward. For right now, let's jump into the mailbag and resume Four Down Territory.

Time to reach into the mailbag one final time for the week. We'll get right to it.

Q: John Tait is entering the final year of his contract, John St. Clair is a free agent and Chris Williams didn't play as a rookie. The Bears can't think the offensive line is in good shape moving forward, can they? Tell me they're going to address this, please.

Fred W., Las Vegas

A: The Bears were one of only six teams this past season to have all five offensive linemen start 16 games, the first time the club has accomplished that since 2001. There were some key questions surrounding the line during training camp, ones that grew more pointed when Williams was lost for the first half of the season following back surgery. Terrence Metcalf was expected to start at left guard and then he was lost for the preseason after arthroscopic knee surgery. Through it all, the line stuck together and performed fairly well with St. Clair at left tackle on a permanent basis for the first time in his career. Take away two games against Jared Allen, and he was steady. Josh Beekman stepped in at left guard, Tait made the transition back to right tackle and Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza were fixtures.

Fire away with any questions you have.

We will do our best to get to as many as possible and post a Q&A Wednesday after the Bears break away from Bourbonnais for the preseason opener Thursday vs. Kansas City.

Ask all you want but it's doubtful we will be predicting a winner in the QB derby. Include name and hometown.

Mailbag, Vol. VI

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It's been a little too long since our last entry, but two red eye trips back from the West Coast and a holiday in between has shortened our weeks. We'll get back on schedule for the stretch run, so keep the inquiries coming.

Q: Where is Corey Dillon? Isn’t he available? Tiki Barber might come out of retirement for a real chance to win a title.

Tyree T., Chicago

Tyree: I’d assume Dillon is kicking back with the phone nearby waiting to hear from the New England Patriots. While Dillon’s agent Steve Feldman told the Sun-Times in September that his client would be interested in joining the Bears, the team wasn’t seeking any help at the time. When I checked with Feldman earlier this month, he said Dillon no longer had an interest in the Bears.

And that change of heart has nothing to do with the changing weather. Dillon would gladly return to the undefeated New England Patriots for another run at a Super Bowl ring. They might not need him, though. As far as Barber goes, his agent also told the Sun-Times back in September that Tiki was quite happy as a talking head these days.

The Bears may still bring a running back in with Cedric Benson lost for the season, but they were in no rush to make that move Monday, and it’s almost a guarantee anyone they do bring in will not be a household name. Many teams operate with only four backs and that’s what the Bears have now with backup fullback Lousaka Polite expected to dress for Sunday’s game vs. the Giants for the first time this season.

Mailbag Vol. V -- answers

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After a bye weekend for everyone, we jump back into the blog. Send your questions and we’ll have another round out in no time.

Q: Brian Griese has thrown more picks than TDs; fumbled three snaps in five games called out Mark Bradley for not picking up his signal against Detroit that led to, according to Griese, the free safety knowing where the ball was going, notwithstanding that his arm could not get it there; underthrew a fly to Devin Hester, who had two steps on the corner at Philly; took credit for calling the plays in the Philly game; blamed his coach for not opening up the playbook, even though he typically dumps the ball off before the receivers have broken on their routes; is a Green Bay collapse and Ed Hochuli call away from being 0-5; has said that he has never seen a team lacking leadership (shot at the captains, coaches, Rex Grossman?); and slid instead of diving for the first down against Detroit, when all needed was one more yard to the get the first down and keeping the defense on the sideline?

Not sure when you and the other media members will wake up to these facts, but this is why Mike Shanahan ran him out of Denver. It's time for you to stop trying to justify the change to Griese and report on his unique way of disrupting team chemistry and otherwise playing like a poor man's Shane Matthews.

Timothy C., Chicago

Timothy: Can you tell us how you really feel about Griese? I understand he’s played very poorly at times, there’s no other way to describe how the Detroit Lions intercept you seven times inside their own 40-yard line in two games. Take away the bulk of those and it’s probably two wins for the Bears and they’re not currently delirious in Motown with a 4-4 club.

But where would you have the Bears and Lovie Smith turn? Most of the people clamoring for Griese to go are forgetting how bad Rex Grossman was in his three starts. One touchdown. Six picks. Nine sacks. The deeper we go into the season the more apparent it is that Jerry Angelo will once again be on a quarterback of the future hunt. It’s a tired storyline in this town.

Mailbag Vol. IV -- answers

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Rolling through a handful of questions before we head out to see who’s on the field and who’s not at the Friday practice. Send in your queries and we’ll do our best to get them answered next week during the bye.

Q: Kyle Orton played well two years ago, only to be benched. I think he’d make a more viable option than Brian Griese. What do you think from seeing the team every day?

Adam D., Parts Unknown

Adam: After watching Griese lead the Bears back in the fourth quarter at Philadelphia, I think it’s fair to say he’s the best option for the Bears right now. As far as Orton’s development, that is the great unknown. He didn’t get a lot of chances in the preseason, and how can you really judge the guy playing with third-teamers? He’s got little talent to work with and he’s going against guys with little talent. We don’t get to digest much of practice each day, in fact just a little bit more than stretching. I can tell you this: Orton has gotten more serious about his career in the last year and has handled everything like a pro. His contract runs through next season and he’s anxious for a chance somewhere, here or elsewhere. With Rex Grossman expected to depart following the season, Orton could go into 2008 as the No. 2 with an eye toward free agency.

Mailbag Vol. III -- answers

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The referee has thrown the flag and I’ve been whistled for a five-yard penalty—delay of game. More like delay of Q&A. So without putting this task off any further, we’ll jump into the questions and comments that were selected. Keep them coming.

It’s been since before the Green Bay game that we came with answers, so here we go:

Mailbag, Vol. III

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Send in your questions and we'll post answers this weekend.

Mailbag, Vol. II

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E-mail in your questions for this week and I will have answers up later in the week.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Mailbag category.

Lovie Smith is the previous category.

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