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.
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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
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!
Filed under: QandA