Reader Q&A: Chicago Bears Huddle Inbox

Reader Q&A: Chicago Bears Huddle Inbox
Bring on the Sanzenbacher! Questions . . . that is.

The Bears concluded their off-season OTA and mini-camp program this week, and with it came a slew of questions from Bears fans. We couldn’t get to them all this time, but hopefully these will offer at least some insight as to where this team stands very early on in June. Enjoy! As always, you can read the entire off-season Q&A series here.

. . .

Do you think Dane Sanzenbacher will make the team? – Alberto Arreola, via Twitter / Do you think a healthy Sanzenbacher will be let go while a questionable Knox is kept? – “RasRooMan,” via Twitter

I decided to combine these two, as I thought both were similar and fair questions. As for Sanzenbacher making the team—completely regardless of Johnny Knox’s status—he faces a very steep uphill battle. According to Pro Football Focus’ 2011 Wide Receiver Drop Rate statistic, Sanzenbacher ranked the worst among league rookies, putting seven of 34 catchable balls thrown his way on the ground. But performance aside, the Bears are only going to keep five or six WRs this season (likely five). So, go ahead and start plugging in who’s guaranteed to stick: 1) Marshall . . . 2) Hester . . . 3) Bennett . . . 4) Jeffery . . . Dane would have to beat both Eric Weems and Devin Thomas for a spot, and he won’t beat Weems, IMO.

As for the Knox aspect, I think it’s all but a forgone conclusion that he’ll either start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) and ultimately wind up on Injured Reserve (IR). Or, he’ll start the season on IR. They’re not likely to cut him right away if there’s any hope at all of his return, since Knox would qualify for injury protection benefits in 2012, meaning the Bears will pay him up to 50% of his full salary of $1.26M this season no matter what happens. The uncertainty of his future is further enhanced by the fact that he’ll be a free agent in 2013. I, for one, am praying that future. Knox is one of the good guys.

Who do you see starting Week-1 opposite Marshall? Hester, Jeffery, Thomas or Weems? – “Mr. Mike,” via Twitter

I’ve written about this quite a bit, actually. I’m all but convinced that Devin Hester is heading into training camp as the team’s starting flanker opposite Marshall. The only guy who I can see beating him out for that spot is Alshon Jeffery. But here’s the problem: there’s absolutely zero benefit to putting Jeffery’s name ahead of Hester’s on a meaningless depth-chart. The receivers will rotate based on the play-call. Based on what we know right now (which I’ll admit is not a lot) Alshon Jeffery is not a better NFL receiver than Devin Hester (he will be someday). Not only that, but psychologically, it makes more sense to have Jeffery listed as second-string in his first season—for everyone.

Any predictions on what the Bears will do with all of the DEs? Will Izzy switch positions? – “Chicago Hurricane,” via Twitter

Good question. As far back as I felt like checking, the Bears have kept four defensive ends since 2008. Right now, they have six not including Israel Idonije, who they have listed as DL; meaning he could be a tweener and play a little DT. Right now, I’d guess your four DEs are Peppers/Wootton and McClellin/Idonije. I would suspect they’ll also keep four DTs and would guess these guys as the stickers: Henry Melton, Matt Toeaina, Stephen Paea and Jordan Miller.

Who has the best shot of making the roster as a 4th DE/DT between Gibson, Ozwogou, Miller, McCargo, Pressley, Collins, Cameron? – Jake Cooper, via Twitter

See above. I think, by default, it’s Jordan Miller. But keep in mind that even now this is an unfair prediction. When the pads come on in training camp, we’ll have a much better idea of who’s going to emerge.

Who should start at Left Tackle for the Bears? – Steven L. Smith, via Twitter

Jake Long.

Oh . . . you meant between Chris Williams and J’Marcus Webb! Of course you did . . . well then, I’m going to give you my second smartest smart-ass answer: whoever is better. It’s not that I mean to be curt about it, it’s just that until we get a look at both on them being hit and hitting others, we won’t know. Personally, I think Williams has the stuff to beat out Webb, and I think the Bears have a bias toward that same outcome.

Could Armando Allen challenge Kahlil Bell for the No. 3 RB spot? – Steve Augustyn, via Facebook

Not likely. The idea that Armando Allen is going to show the coaches something in training camp that’s better than what Kahlil Bell has shown on the actual football field is doubtful. Allen has handled 15 NFL carries to Bell’s 119, and quite simply, Bell is a better player.

What does god have against Chicago? E.G., Rose and Cutler . . . – Eli Levin, via Twitter

Thank you for this question, Eli. What my friend Eli here is referring to of course is the skid of injuries that have plagued Chicago Sports for the past year or so. To which I will respond by asking Eli to look at things from a slightly different perspective and maybe, just maybe, he might see that God, in fact, likes Chicago . . . After all, Rose would never have been here at all if it hadn’t been for that improbable lottery pick. Neither would Jay Cutler if it hadn’t been for one of the biggest trades in NFL history. And the most recent evidence of said manna raining down from heaven comes in the form of one Brandon Marshall . . . I mean, can anyone explain what the Dolphins were thinking yet? I didn’t think so. Your Hawks got to hoist a Stanley Cup only a few years after the old man passed. The Cubs picked up likely the most coveted GM in the game, and the Sox, my lowly Sox, are in first-flipping place! I’d actually say that God has given Chicago Sports the means, and now it’s up the individual teams to take advantage! As my good friend and Chicago Bears Huddle contributor Rob would say, PREACH!


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  • I do not remember this much hype and high expectations since 1985 and 86. Every off season brings hope, but even the so called experts in the media like the Bears and that is a very unusual happening.....so I went position by position through the line and I can honestly say there is on one position I don't like the personel and maybe two or three that are unsettled ( 1 CB, 1 LB and Safety) but really I think they will settle in fine and be better than average on defense.

    I am not worried about the Forte situation...at least this year. I am not worried about Urlacher suddenly looking old. I am not worried about Tice and his play calling. I am not worried about the pass rush, it will be there...I am concerned about how injuries affect the team but nothing the Bears can do but sign depth...and they did that. I am worried about giving Cutler enough time to throw...if the line comes together, this really could be a memorable season for us!

  • In reply to Mouser:

    Agree with most all of this. I've been contemplating a post comparing this season to 2009 when Cutler first came to Chicago. There were some pretty high expectations shattered that season. This year has a different feel though. It just feels like the perfect storm, and I HATE even saying that because it's ... uh ... FREAKING JUNE.

  • Adam? Adam? Adam?

    *insert Stephen A. Smith dramatic pause here . . .

    Alshon Jeffery was a better WR in highschool than Devin Hester was just last year!

    Now, again, I'm not bashing Hester, but being from SEC country, I've witnessed this kid (Jeffery) dominate the fastest, most heralded DB's in the country since 2010 & I promise you the Bears -- via God himself, Eli -- has stumbled upon the jewel of the draft at the WR position.

    Hyberbole?

    Maybe.

    Before the draft if most of you guys remember, I had Jeffery ranked the #1 WR in this year's stellar class. I don't get paid to scout or work stop-watches but I trust my eyes...& Alshon Jeffery is what I like to call: a football player. Not a gimmick, but the real thing.

    Hester & Bennett will benefit greatly with AJ17 & Optimus Prime on the outside, so why are we (& the Bears) tryin' to turn a buzzard into a swan? Hester had his shot at wideout, the future HOF return man should 'return' to doin what he does best... 'RETURN'!!

    #AbortAbort

  • Jeffery denitely has the goods to be a top reciever in this league....what I don't like already is how much practice he has missed. Did he not show up in shape? Is this just a run of bad luck and will clear up? Lower leg injury? I hope it is the latter...I think it is the latter because he did not have an injury history in college...only time will tell. I can say that if Alshon blossoms, the Bears will be awesome on the outside with nifty quick guys like Hester and Bennett complementing them from the slot running routes underneath.

    Could be the second coming of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquon Boldin...I predict we will hear that comparison again assuming Alshon gets to practice and maintains his weight/work ethic.

  • In reply to Mouser:

    Dudes . . . probably best to temper the Jeffery expectations. (Better than Hester in HS??? 2nd coming of Fitz??? LOL) Seen it a million times. I think he'll be a very good player, but there's a learning curve. Still disagree that he's a better option than Hester until he shows it on the field. And I will freely admit that Hester has shown little at the position come game-day. All said keeping in mind that I fully expect Alshon to develop into the No. 2 here.

    Yep, he reported in shape. Looks good and has continued to excel at catching tough balls in practice.

  • In reply to Adam Oestmann:

    GM Mouser is often correct in my predictions...keep my posts and see....anyways; Marshall is Fitzgerald and Jeffrey is Boldin in the comparison...the comparison can be made on physical size alone but wont be made until both players light it up in the same game for over 100 yds each and some TD's....save the post...I am the first one to make the comparison. It will be made at some point in the season, assuming they both get on the field together and have success....that my friends is a BIG if right now because Jewffewry has to be present and practice and do well enought to earn starter type playing time...won't happen for several games into the season imo. More predictions...Tommy Harris will be a Bear too and we will wish before the season is over that Okoye was a Bear. Chris Williams will beat out Webb and Roach will lose his starting job. Wright and Conte will start at safety and before week 8 we will see Steltz and Hardin starting....by week 8, Earl Bennett will be #2 in yards/td's from the receiving position and Rodreguiz will be a distant memory because the other 3 TE's will be in front of him. Peppers will be solid and I think McClellin will delight us.

  • In reply to Adam Oestmann:

    we'll see.

  • Alshon reportedly is around 216lbs. He's in shape. As for the "lower leg injury", I feel as if Lovie has always taken extra precaution this early in offseason. A lot of coaches around the league would be pushing at this point but Lovie understands that Jeffery & his support team did a great job getting his weight down so the extra strain of [practice] could cause lingering problems. I'm guessing he's still cramping, but he'll be absolutely fine by training camp.

    #AJ17ManCrushClubPrez

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