Special Delivery: JC Answers Your Questions

It's Friday once again, sports fans, which means it's time for another playoff-bound version of Special Delivery. If you have a question that you would like to have JC answer, post it in the appropriate pegged thread on the message boards, or send it to his EZInbox. Our first question comes from Adam of West Fargo, ND and concerns the possible move of Adewale Ogunleye from end to tackle.

Coaches always talk about getting the best 11 players on the field. The Bears have three great DEs and only two positions. Tommie Harris's injury got me to thinking, have the Bears thought of moving Adewale Ogunleye inside with Mark Anderson to left end? I'm not saying all the time but in certain pass rush packages. - Adam (West Fargo, ND)
To answer your question simplistically, no, I don't think the Bears have thought about that at all. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera uses a defensive line rotation that is seven and eight players deep most of the time, so having depth at that position is a good thing. In terms of moving Ogunleye inside for the specific purpose of getting Anderson on the field more, I'm not sure if Ogunleye's strengths as a player are conducive to playing tackle. I talked to Israel Idonije on Thursday about the difference between the two positions, and he said that you have to blast off the snap and starting using your hands immediately as a tackle, while playing end gives you more time to set up your moves and anticipate contact. Anderson may have started only one game this season, but he's obviously seen enough action to rack up 10 sacks as a rookie.

So what's your take on this whole Tank Johnson situation? Is this going to affect the team this year? - SilverTongue
I posted a rather lengthy take on the message board last night after I got all the pertinent information. For the most part, I believe that Johnson was incredibly irresponsible here and has apparently not learned his lesson after two previous arrests in the last 13 months, one of which being gun-related. Set aside all the 2nd Amendment stuff for a while and just picture the fact that he had six guns in his house - including two military-style assault rifles - readily accessible in addition to a felony amount of marijuana with two innocent children living there. But the legal wheels turn very slowly, plus Johnson has a team of expert lawyers and the NFLPA on his side. I firmly believe he'll be suspended at some point, but it will almost certainly be next season and probably won't have any bearing on his status with the team this year.

Is Lovie Smith planning on using Devin Hester on offense but waiting till the playoffs to unveil this, or is he really not going to try him at all? - WumpNutt1
Not only is giving Hester some looks on offense the hottest topic in Chicago right now, but the rest of the country seems to be eagerly awaiting this move, too. Smith hinted that he might give him a chance after last week's game in St. Louis when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, but he retracted those statements on Wednesday and simply said that he was trying to get Hester some consideration for Rookie of the Year honors. The NFL awards one player for offense and one for defense, but as of right now, there is no special teams-specific rookie award. Hester has a lot on his plate right now in terms of returning both punts and kickoffs, plus he's getting some time in the defensive secondary because the Bears are dealing with a plethora of injuries. However, it can't be too hard to implement an end-around or a simple receiver screen with him out there just to make opposing defenses nervous.

Is Tommie Harris going to have trouble with his hamstring next season, or will this surgery do the trick? - Shelton (Bolingbrook, IL)
It was originally thought that Harris had a major knee sprain and a minor hamstring injury when he got hurt in Week 13 against Minnesota. Upon further evaluation, it was determined that the knee injury was actually pretty minor, but he had indeed torn that hamstring. Harris had successful surgery in Dallas on Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery. This isn't like a torn ACL that can linger for an extra year like we've seen with Mark Bradley at times. Harris should be 100% by training camp next season and back to his dominating self.

Has Rex Grossman avoided the possibility of being benched with the way he played in St. Louis, or could we still see a switch to Brian Griese? - CandyMan54
No question about it, if Grossman had not performed on Monday night against the Rams, Griese would have entered the game and probably been the starter the rest of the season. But Grossman played pretty well - 13-of-23 for 200 yards and two TDs - and apparently proved to his coaches and teammates that he can rise to the occasion. Needless to say, the Rams are a team going nowhere and have a poor defense, but the most important aspect of that game was the fact that Grossman avoided the mistakes that have cost him in the past. No interceptions, no fumbles, and no sacks - that's much more important than the slant he threw to Bernard Berrian that went for a touchdown or the perfect fade pass to Muhsin Muhammad for another score. Plus, it was obvious that his fellow Bears were rooting for him by the way they reacted to that unexpected 22-yard scamper up the middle on 3rd-and-7.

How do you think Devin Hester did playing cornerback against the Rams? I think he needs to play more. - Jack (Detroit, MI)
Hester obviously provided the best highlights by becoming only the sixth player in NFL history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. That being said, I still believe that his play as a cornerback has a long way to go. He gave up a touchdown to All-Pro Torry Holt on a double-move, and Holt was openly jawing on the sideline afterward that he knew Hester didn't have a chance to defend him. From the very early going, Rams QB Marc Bulger was throwing in Hester's direction most every time he was on the field. He desperately wants to be a cornerback in this league because he envisions being the next Deion Sanders, but he just seems like such a natural with the ball in his hands that he eventually might be a better fit on offense.

Could the Bears be vulnerable if they face the Saints in the playoffs the way Drew Brees has been throwing the ball this season? Even at Soldier Field? - Richard (Lombard, IL)
I'm a big fan of Brees for no other reason than he's been my fantasy football quarterback for the last two seasons, and both times I was able to draft him late because he never got any respect until recently. Personally, I'd vote him as the MVP of the league no matter what LaDainian Tomlinson has been doing in San Diego. The Saints traded away Donte' Stallworth before the start of the season and have been without Joe Horn for several games, yet Brees still has a chance to set the all-time record for passing yards in a season. Having Reggie Bush to complement Deuce McAllister in the backfield has certainly paid dividends, but had anyone ever heard of Marques Colston or Devery Henderson before Brees started getting them the ball? I know the statistics say that the Bears defense is weaker against the run, but no Mike Brown and a potentially-hampered Nathan Vasher could spell doom for the Monsters of the Midway if the Saints come marching in this January.

Is there anyone on the Bears practice squad who might become an impact player? I don't believe one of them has been elevated to the active roster this year. - Milton (Largo, FL)
You're right, not one player from the Bears practice squad this season has been on the active roster for even one game. Every time the team has needed to make a roster move for injury purposes, GM Jerry Angelo has found a replacement from another team. Now tailback P.J. Pope was picked up by the Packers and tight end Bennie Joppru by the Seahawks, but there certainly won't be any practice squad guys who make an impact for the Bears this season. Offensive linemen Marc LeVoir and Tyler Reed have some potential and could develop into NFL starters at some point, which would be nice considering the advancing age of veterans like Ruben Brown and Fred Miller. Former Texas Tech safety Dwayne Slay certainly knows how to lay the lumber, but he'll have to put on some size in order to be an NFL linebacker.

Why has Mark Bradley disappeared again? He had two long touchdowns a few weeks ago but doesn't seem to be playing much again. Is he in the doghouse or something? - Anthony (Carbondale, IL)
Bradley has all the talent in the world and put it on display against the Giants and Jets in Weeks 10 and 11, respectively. However, he was held to just one catch for 15 yards the next week at New England and has been shut out ever since. That being said, this has more to do with the fact that Berrian has turned into a very good player and deserves every snap he gets on offense. Rashied Davis has done an admirable job as the slot receiver in three-wide sets, a spot that isn't necessarily a good fit for a player of Bradley's size. The Bears are still very high on him and believe he will be a big part of the offense at some point, but he's still behind Muhammd, Berrian, and Davis on the depth chart as of today.

I know you grew up a Bears fan, but does that make your job covering the team easier or harder? - Jennifer (Lakeview)
Quite honestly, my answer to that question probably changes every day. I considered myself very fortunate - and still do - to land a sports writing job that involved covering my favorite NFL team, but that can be a good thing and a bad thing. It's great because I already knew the roster very well, I knew the history of the franchise, and I knew the ins and outs of being a Bears fan. That being said, I have to be objective every time I put pen to paper, and that would probably be much easier if I was covering the San Francisco 49ers or the Denver Broncos. I'm a human being and sometimes have to remind myself to divorce JC the sports writer from JC the sports fan, but I still enjoy the fact that the Bears are having such a great season so far.

Special Delivery runs every Friday on BearReport.com. If you have a question that you would like to have JC answer, please find the appropriate pegged thread on the message boards or send it to his EZInbox.

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