John Crist, Editor in Chief, BearReport.com: Harris started off gangbusters this season with five sacks in his first four games. He sacked Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck twice in Week 4 and started to create some buzz that he might be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season. The first one to make that comment was last year's winner, fellow Bear Brian Urlacher. Harris has trimmed down a little bit since he first got into the league, and his explosiveness off the ball is second to none in football right now. He hasn't done much on the stat sheet the last month or so, but he's being double-teamed repeatedly these days and creating plenty of opportunities for the likes of Alex Brown and Tank Johnson.
Dan Leberfeld: With all the big names the Bears have on their front seven, how much of a surprise is it that rookie fifth-round pick Mark Anderson leads them in sacks?
John Crist: Surprise is the understatement of the year because there was a chance Anderson wasn't even going to make the team coming out of training camp. He missed the first three preseason games while nursing a bad hamstring, but since he's gotten back to full speed, he's been sensational. Anderson slipped all the way to the fifth round this past April despite an impressive collegiate career at Alabama, and he is yet another productive defensive player that GM Jerry Angelo has found on the second day of the NFL Draft. He racked up 7.5 sacks in his first seven games as a pro but has come up empty the last two weeks. Anderson has obviously caught the attention of opposing offensive coordinators now, so it will be interesting to see if he can find new ways to get to the quarterback.
Dan Leberfeld: Brian Urlacher suffered a sprained toe against Miami two weeks ago. How serious is the injury, and is it impacting his play?
John Crist: Based on the Urlacher that I saw this past Sunday night at the Meadowlands, I would say that his sprained big toe had almost no effect. He was certainly sore after the game and will most likely take it easy in practice this week, but he'll be pretty close to 100% when the Bears face the Jets. Urlacher loves it when people doubt how good he really is. A week after The Sporting News listed him as the second-most overrated player in the NFL, he single-handedly destroyed the Cardinals in the second half and willed his team to a come-from-behind victory. He truly is a one-of-a-kind player and a joy to watch every week.
Dan Leberfeld: The Bears have had a lot of injury problems at safety. How are things at those two positions right now?
John Crist: Regardless of what the numbers say, replacing Mike Brown is simply an impossible task. Not only is he an elite player who made his first Pro Bowl last season, but he is the unquestioned leader of the defense. Todd Johnson has gotten the start the last three weeks, and perhaps not by coincidence, the Bears have been gashed on the ground in those games. Chris Harris, last season's starter at free safety, lost his job to rookie Danieal Manning but might be better suited to play strong safety anyway because of his size. Manning has been good if not great so far this season, but strong safety is most definitely a concern right now.
Dan Leberfeld: Cornerback Charles Tillman had a great rookie year but has tailed off since. What has happened to him?
John Crist: For the life of me, I can't understand why Tillman receives as much negative criticism as he does. He may not be an All-Star opposite Nathan Vasher, but he is a big, physical cornerback who defends the run as well as just about anyone at that position. Tillman was used and abused by Steve Smith in the playoff loss to Carolina last season, but seriously, who isn't? He was called out by Plaxico Burress of the Giants a week ago, and 'Peanut' responded by limited him to just four catches for 48 yards and also came down with an interception. While Tillman may not be the prototypical shutdown corner, if he was available on the open market, his agent would receive plenty of phone calls.
Be on the lookout for Part IV of this four-part series as Dan will answer five more of John's questions.