I know Brian Urlacher thinks he can play another two years, and given he's the oldest player on defense, do you think the Bears will look to draft a guy to replace him as early as next spring? If so, who would be the best option? Replacing a guy like Urlacher is going to be nearly impossible, but this is the team that invented the middle linebacker, so I know it'll happen. If not next year, then hopefully sooner rather than the seven years it took to find a replacement for Mike Singletary. What are your thoughts? J. Ryan Miller
We have to see how the season plays out, and what happens with Urlacher's contract situation. But regardless, I don't think there is any question the Bears need to get some young talent in the pipeline at the linebacker position. Not only is Urlacher 34, but Lance Briggs is 31, and Nick Roach is out of contract after this year. Drafting a player (or players) next April who sits or plays on the strong side for awhile is an option. Ultimately the Bears can't keep ignoring the position and expect for these veterans to continue on forever. Three of the higher rated senior middle linebacker prospects in the draft are Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, Penn State's Michael Mauti and Stanford's Shayne Skov. Another option for the Bears, should Urlacher leave via free agency or retire, would be to sign a veteran free agent. Now that the Rams got the contract of James Laurinaitis extended, the list of middle linebackers with expiring contracts isn't very appealing. But sometimes players shake free for various reason.
Odds we will see Urlacher on the field for the whole game vs. Packers? @Frankjlombardo, from Twitter
I expect Urlacher will play the whole game. As far as I can tell, he would have remained on the field against the Colts had the game not been out of hand. Some have suggested he come out on nickel downs until he gets his football legs, especially against teams with high-powered passing games like the Packers. I don't think that is a bad suggestion, but it seems out of character for Lovie Smith to do something like that.
It seemed like in the first half against the Colts, the Bears were blitzing the LBs more than I remember from the past few years. Was I wrong? @ditka2009 Actually the Bears did not blitz much at all Sunday. They were getting sufficient pressure with a four-man rush, so they didn't have to blitz. That is the ideal--why give up a man in coverage if he isn't necessary to get after the quarterback? Things got a little sloppy for the defense in the second half. I thought some of the rushers might have been a little tired as the game went on, which would make sense given it was pretty warm and this was the first time in which mainstays played four quarters. But if the Bears can get keep getting pressure with four, I would anticipate they will continue to blitz infrequently.
Are the Packers in trouble if they go 0-2? @kjaxonjr, from Twitter
A team like the Packers could overcome an 0-2 start. Teams that have started 0-2 in the past have made the playoffs close to 13 percent of the time. But the bigger issue is the Packers will have lost two games at home to teams they needed to be able to beat at home, if they are what we think they are. How could the Packers expect to go to the Super Bowl if they can't beat the Bears and 49ers in Lambeau? Starting 0-2 would tell us the Packers are not the same team they were last year, and that they have some significant issues.
Were you surprised by the use and performance of the Bears TE Evan Rodriguez? @URlyle, from Twitter
Yes I was. I thought he was a fancy-Dan receiver, not a gritty, tough guy blocker. He made real contributions as a fullback, and also played well on special teams. He is now listed as a fullback on the depth chart, but I think he's going to end up being more than a fullback. It will be interesting to see how his role evolves.
Is the signing of Jonathan Scott a precursor of moving Chris Williams back inside to LG? Vic Fiebig, Springfield, Va.
It certainly could be. But it depends on how Scott performs in practice. Right now, Williams is a backup at both tackle positions and really both guard positions too. If Williams can concentrate on guard, and Scott can concentrate on tackle, the Bears might be better served across the board. Scott has more of a prototype tackle body than Williams, and Williams might be a better guard than tackle.
Dan, is there a reason Charles Tillman is never challenged for the starting corner job? @armyyag3, from Twitter Yes -- because the Bears haven't found anyone better. He has been their best cornerback for quite awhile. He is a really good fit in the Bears' zone scheme, and he comes up with takeaways. This year, however, Tim Jennings is playing at an awfully high level. He is showing confidence and aggressiveness that wasn't there a year ago. It will be interesting come February to look back at the 2012 season and see if we still think Tillman is king of the Bears corners.
WWhy does the Bears roster list Henry Melton as DE, not DT? It has for years now. Ron S., Sammamish, WA Melton was listed as a defensive end coming out of Texas. It never was changed, and has slipped through the cracks over the years. But I'm now told that as a result of your email, Ron, the Bears are now changing the roster to reflect that Melton is a DT, not a DE.
Dave Toub's freakish innovation on special teams has proven to be consistently disruptive. Mike Tice is a great OC coordinator and I like his strategy to run the ball, use TE packages, and get the ball to Brandon Marshall. Having said that, I can't help but think that some Toub influence would go nicely with Tice's bread and butter. Don't worry, this isn't another crazed fan already asking for Tice's head before the season gets going. All I am suggesting is that Mr. Dave may be able to inject some valuable creativity into the weekly offensive game plan. Do you think that coach Lovie and coach Mike may recognize the value of some Dave Toub's suggestions to the play book? Jake D., Boise, Idaho
Dave Toub is one of the premier special teams coaches in the league, and he has potential to be a fine head coach as well. I don't know if I would invite him into the offensive game planning room, however. Toub's background prior to getting involved in special teams is as a defensive line coach and strength coach. He was, however an offensive player, having been an offensive lineman at Texas El Paso. Each of the Bears coaches has strengths and specialties. The best way for things to work smoothly is for each of the assistants to stay in their lanes and concentrate on their own jobs. More chefs does not a better soup make.
Other than the O-Line play, what is the biggest difference from this year's Bears to 2006 Bears? @jrbiggs1999, from Twitter The offensive line play was better in 2006, but the passing game has a lot more potential in 2012. Jay Cutler is a significantly more talented quarterback than Rex Grossman, though both have a penchant for throwing the maddening interception. Cutler also has better receivers, and a deeper group of receivers. That Super Bowl team had no one like Brandon Marshall. The player who had the third highest amount of yards on the 2006 team among wide receivers was Rashied Davis. He didn't even make the cut for the 2012 Bears.
I saw that the Bears terminated the contract of Patrick Trahan before the first game. If I recall correctly, NFL players are only paid on game days so if he is not on the roster for the first game, does that mean he just went through camp and the entire preseason only to find out the day before the first game he was not going to earn a single penny? Kevin Pearce, Pflugerville, TX If a player is on an NFL roster on the Tuesday prior to the game or later, he gets a check for that week. So Trahan got paid. He subsequently has been signed to the practice squad.
Is it legal to tackle someone in the NFL by their hair? Steve Rothman, New Haven, Conn. Yes it is. The hair is considered an extension of the player's uniform, like the jersey. If a player doesn't want to be tackled by his hair, he can, however, do something about it: go see a barber.