Although we've already seen Ashley Lelie get moved from Denver to Atlanta and Donte Stallworth jump from New Orleans to Philadelphia, unless there is a catastrophic injury in the early going, the Bears seem content to stick with what they already have at receiver. I wrote a feature last week about Deion Branch being a perfect fit after he was granted permission to seek a trade out of New England, but they aren't going to pony up the money he'll want in a contract extension since they threw so much coin at Muhsin Muhammad before last season. Although I believe Mark Bradley and Bernard Berrian have the ability to become solid NFL receivers one day, I would feel much more confident with another proven guy like Branch in the huddle.
Do you think that the possible defense preseason woes have to deal with two of the three teams we will play in the regular season, therefore, we do not want to show anything we will bring at them when the time counts? - HastyUNC
I think that is a major issue at play here, Hasty. I've been on my soapbox all preseason long about how the NFL needed to institute a preseason schedule that includes no repeat matchups in the regular season. It's ridiculous that two of the Bears four preseason opponents also appear on the regular season schedule, and if you watched the 49ers game in particular, the Bears did absolutely no strategizing whatsoever for fear of revealing too much. It's just further proof that you can't take the exhibition games too seriously. Anyone who thinks the Bears are going to pass the ball 75% of the time because that's what they did in August is crazy.
Exactly what is the status of Benson, and will he see action against Green Bay? - ghostd00d
Few teams in the NFL disguise the truth about their injuries more than the Bears do. Benson has been practicing the last week or so, this is true, but I believe he is still yet to give it a go in full contact drills. He was wearing the orange no-contact jersey for a while there, but he isn't anymore. I think he's just being extra cautious because a shoulder injury can certainily linger for a running back throughout the season. I'm faily confident he'll suit up, but Thomas Jones should start and get the bulk of the carries.
Why don't the Bears use Devin Hester on kickoff returns since he's been so good on punt returns so far? - Carlos, Miami
I have been lobbying for Hester to get both jobs all season long, but believe it or not, the Bears coaching staff doesn't necessarily seek my input. He has no technique whatsoever at cornerback right now, so the only way he'll contribute will be on special teams anyway. Perhaps most importantly, guys like Rashied Davis and Danieal Manning are young players with important roles already, so just let Hester take care of the return game.
Who is the most fun to talk to in the locker room? - Christopher, Elgin
There are plenty of characters on the roster, but there are a few duds, too. Muhsin Muhammad is always quoteworthy, although he's been very diva-like lately with the press. If I'm ever looking for something deep and introspective, Brendon Ayanbadejo is my guy. Mark Bradley is a serious prankster and randomly sings at the top of his lungs all the time, but he's usually fairly guarded with his answers. Lance Briggs might be the most fun to talk to because he'll give you straight-from-the-hip answers but has a ton of fun while doing it.
Which player that nobody is talking about could make a big impact this year? - Steve, Old Town
I've quickly become a Cameron Worrell fan. He was on IR last year and still a relative no-name coming into camp, but he's been getting some action with the first-stringers the last few preseason games. The kid is just absolutely fearless, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he eventually replaces Todd Johnson on the safety depth chart.
What's it like in the press box during games? - Joey, Berwyn
Honestly, I'm not a huge press box guy. I would much rather be in the stands with everyone else. I'm a football fan like all of you guys, but that's one of the trade-offs if I want to write about it for a living. Sports writers will chase free food like no others, so there's always a nice pre-game spread waiting for us. Aside from that, it's pretty business-like. The announcer will remind everyone before the game that cheering is absolutely not allowed. But we're usually just clicking away on our laptops between plays and cracking the same jokes about players year after year.
Everyone is just assuming that the Bears will run away with the NFC North, but do you think one of the other teams could challenge them? - Charles, Champaign
I firmly believe that the Bears are the class of the division and should win it going away. That being said, either the Vikings or Lions will probably be a little better than expected and could be a nuisance. The Packers are horrible and will be lucky to win six games this season. The Vikings are much improved on defense, and I've learned never to doubt Mike Martz's ability to create Pro-Bowl quarterbacks out of nothing. I'm predicting 10-6 for the Bears, 9-7 for either the Vikings or Lions, 7-9 for the other, and another 4-12 for the Packers.
Which Bears player could come out of nowhere and make the Pro Bowl kind of like Lance Briggs did last season? - Kevin, Philadelphia
I would like to say Rex Grossman, but I don't see that happening. I'd probably have to say Hester because he could certainly be in Hawaii as the return man for the NFC. I believe he took back six kicks for touchdowns in college at Miami, and those skills usually translate well to the NFL.
What's the best thing about being a sports writer, and what's the worst thing? - Shaman, Aurora
The best thing is that I never have to worry about not wanting to go to work in the morning. I get paid to talk about and write about football every day, something I pretty much did anyway my whole life. My three offices are my home, Halas Hall, and Soldier Field. I guess the worst thing is that I really can't be a fan anymore. Now I can still root like crazy for my beloved Florida State Seminoles (my alma mater), but when it comes to anything NFL, I'm just another working stiff who's supposed to be as objective and impartial as possible, and that sometimes takes a little bit of the fun away.
Who is most likely going to get cut from the team and deserves it the least? - BooRiffic
P.J. Pope, by far. For an undrafted rookie free agent out of a mid-size program like Bowling Green, that kid has had a very good preseason. He's run hard in practice, caught the ball out of the backfield extremely well, and shown some ability in the exhibition games. He just went to the wrong team. The Bears are set at tailback with Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson, and Adrian Peterson, and not many teams bother to keep four on the roster. I'm not banking on it, but it would be a great story if Pope made this roster.
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