In your opinion, is this the most talented post-Super Bowl 41 Bears roster?
-- Chris Jensen, from Twitter
Yes, it is. I thought the previous most-talented Bears roster post-2006 was the roster from last year. And the 2012 roster is better still, particularly because of the additions of Brandon Marshall, Shea McClellin and Jason Campbell. This is a talented Bears team. If the Bears stay away from catastrophic injuries, and the coaches push the right buttons, I think they are going to make Bears fans happy.
With Stephen Paea, Matt Toeaina and Henry Melton as the only rostered defensive tackles, it's clear the Bears need help. If it's lingering injury issues that worries them, why are they kicking the tires on guys like Trey Lewis, when Anthony Adams is sitting at home waiting for a call? I trust Lovie and Phil Emery, but why not bring back Adams on a team-friendly deal? Would he not be a great depth player? His family is in Chicago, he wants to be back and it's clear the guys in the locker room love him. Is he worse than whomever we end up grabbing off the scrap heap?
-- Mike S., Madison, Wis.
I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of Adams returning, but I don't think I would call it a likelihood. Adams was one of the most well-liked players on the team, and he would be welcomed back with open arms in the locker room. But he was cut for a reason. The Bears would like to get better if they can.
Besides Chris Harris, can you name another player that the Bears have brought back after letting him go?
-- Eric Grogan, from Twitter
The Bears have not brought back many of their old players in the Lovie Smith era, aside from bottom-of-the-roster guys like Rod Wilson and Cameron Worrrell. Marty Booker was one starter who came back. But bringing back Booker and Harris were not typical moves for the Bears. Jerry Angelo believed once you turned the page on a player, it was best to keep the page turned. I tend to agree with him in most cases, but there are special circumstances. As I wrote Wednesday, Tommie Harris is one of them. Phil Emery might be looking at bringing back old players with a different perspective. If you go back to previous eras, there are some examples of players who came back, including Maury Buford, Rudy Bukich, Virgil Carter, Richard Dent and Shane Matthews.
I was wondering if you had heard anything about the Bears signing Marcus McNeill. He is approaching the prime of his career. It seems like a great fit for the Bears. With him and Gabe Carimi on the bookends, all of a sudden the offensive line doesn't look so bad and old. I know that he has had some questions about conditioning and motivation, but I wonder if a change of scenery to his hometown would benefit the Bears. Have you heard of anything in terms of them signing McNeill?
-- Andrew T., Columbia, Mo.
I have received quite a few questions about McNeill. If McNeill were healthy, he would be with a team already. He is a starting-caliber NFL left tackle. His season ended in November because of a neck injury, he was released by the Chargers in March and teams still have concerns about his neck. I have heard McNeill is intent on coming back. It is a situation worth monitoring.
How likely is it that Gabe Carimi moves to left tackle?
-- Gerry Myers, Mishawaka, Ind.
My read is such a move is not very likely. The Bears drafted Carimi to be a right tackle. They think that is his best position. But it is easier to find a right tackle than a left tackle. It is possible the Bears coaches may conclude the team will be better served with Carimi on the left side and say, Chris Williams on the right than they would be with J'Marcus Webb on the left and Carmi on the right. If the Bears move him to left tackle, it probably will be because they are desperate, or close to desperate, at the left tackle position.
What do you think about Shea McClellin?
-- Mark, Boulder, Colo.
Before the draft, I wrote that the Bears needed to find another Brian Urlacher or another Lance Briggs, meaning they needed a young centerpiece for their defense. McClellin can be that kind of player. The more I have researched him since the Bears chose him, the more I think McClellin was a wise pick. He's probably not ever going to lead the NFL in sacks, but I think he will be a solid, consistent producer who will develop into a leader.
Didn't Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael all weigh 265 or 270? How much does Dwight Freeney of the Colts weigh?
-- Dan Robuck, Springfield
All three Bears greats played between 265 and 270. Freeney is in the same weight range. Freeney's defensive end partner in Indianapolis, Robert Mathis, weighs in at 245. At 260, McClellin is plenty heavy enough to rush the passer in the NFL.
With Shea expected to play opposite Julius Peppers, could the Bears move Israel Idonije inside on passing downs?
-- Euan, from Twitter
I will be surprised if they don't. Idonije has moved inside on some nickel downs in the past. It makes more sense to do it now with McClellin available to rush from the outside. Some of you have asked if I think Idonije could be moving to defensive tackle on all downs. I will be surprised if that happens. He bounced back and forth between tackle and end for years before finally settling at end a couple of years ago. Idonije is a better end than tackle, and he should stay there on first and second downs.
Does the NFL still have rules limiting the amount of practice time rookies are allowed before their college classes end? I think I remember a few players graduating early to avoid the limits. Will any of this year's rookies be able to stay for the entire offseason program?
Mark Early, Arlington, Va.
The rule still exists that if a player's class has not graduated, he is not allowed to work out with his NFL team with the exception of participating in rookie camps and minicamps. The Bears are fortunate this year because each of their draft picks is eligible to stick around at Halas Hall after the rookie camp this weekend and partake in the offseason program.
Do you think the Kellen Davis/Evan Rodriguez tandem could amount to a Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez type attack if fully utilized?
-- DJ Horstman, from Twitter
No. Not a chance. Davis and Rodriguez have potential, but let's be realistic here. The Patriots have the most lethal tight end pass catching duo in NFL history. Gronkowski was the 42nd pick in the draft, and he would have gone considerably higher if he had not had medical questions. He is an athletic freak. Davis was the 158th pick in the draft. As for the Hernandez-Rodriguez comparison, in Hernandez' final year in college (he turned pro after his junior season), he had 68 catches for 850 yards and won the Mackey Award as the top tight end in the country. Rodriguez caught 35 passes for 479 yards last year. And there is one more important distinction: Hernandez played at Florida, in the Southeastern Conference. Rodriguez played at Temple, in the Mid-American Conference.
I keep hearing about three-, four- and five-technique players on the defensive line. What exactly does that refer to?
-- Joe, Lombard
It's all about where the player lines up. I should preface this by telling you some coaches may have slightly different definitions for these positions, but these are the most common definitions. The three-technique tackle lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard. If the three technique is an "under" tackle, he is playing on the weak side of the offensive formation. The four technique lines up on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle. The five technique, which is most frequently used in a three-man front, lines up head-to-head with the offensive tackle. The numbering system is credited to Bum Phillips.
Do you the Cris Carter hurt his Hall of Fame chances by admitting to having his own bounties?
-- Erik Grogan, from Twitter
The Hall of Fame expressly tells voters to only consider players' on-field accomplishments. Carter should not be hurt by the fact that he admits to participating in bounties any more than he should be hurt by his admitted drug use. It's all about what he did on the field.