How long until Brian Urlacher's a hall of famer? -- @t walinski, from Twitter
Tough to say, except it shouldn’t take anywhere near as long as it took Richard Dent. At this point, it’s difficult to determine who will be on the ballot in 2018, which will be Urlacher’s first year of eligibility. But we do know he will have competition from other first-timers as Ray Lewis, Ronde Barber and Steve Hutchinson, and possibly Randy Moss will also come up in 2018. It’s difficult for anyone to be inducted in their first year of eligibility. I don’t think there will be much, if any, resistance to Urlacher being hall-worthy among voters. It’s just a matter of determining where he fits in line with the other worthwhile candidates.
Who did Urlacher do best under? Dick Jauron or Lovie Smith? -- @alainbrandon, from Twitter
He was outstanding in both defensive schemes. And he probably would have been outstanding in any defensive scheme. If he wasn’t a great player, it was going to be the fault of whoever was coaching him. I really liked the way Dick Jauron and Greg Blache used Urlacher. He was named defensive rookie of the year, and he had his most productive year for tackles while playing for them. Their philosophy was to keep blockers off Urlacher with big, two gapping defensive linemen. That left Urlacher free to run sideline to sideline and make plays. It also gave him better blitzing opportunities.
He had 21 of his 41.5 career sacks in the first four years of his career under Jauron. He also played in four of his eight Pro Bowls. He also was uniquely qualified to play the middle for Smith, and he became a much more accomplished pass defender in the Tampa 2. Urlacher had 16 of his 22 career interceptions under Smith. He also was named NFL defensive player of the year with Smith coaching him. It was a less traditional way of using the middle linebacker so far as the Bears are concerned, but it worked very well as the Bears defense thrived in those years. So there really is not a definitive answer to your excellent question.
Do you think that Gabe Carimi is feeling pressure from all the offensive line talent in the Bears camp? You are privy to inside Bears information. Is Carimi being nudged out the door out there in Arizona? -- John Jacob, Oak Park
If Carimi is being nudged out the door, he is nudging himself. The Bears want him in OTAs. They don’t want to cut him because, as Brad Biggs recently reported, he will be accounted for on their payroll and their salary cap allotment. He has a $1 million base salary guaranteed, so there is no financial benefit in cutting him. Phil Emery and Marc Trestman have every reason to hope Carimi gets in great shape in Arizona and shows up in training camp capable of winning a starting spot.
In your mailbag on May 16th, you said about Kyle Long: "Long will be back for the mandatory minicamp June 11-13 and should not be too adversely affected for missing the time. OTA practices have a limited value for linemen." If that is the case, why the uproar about Gabe Carimi in Arizona? Or is this a case of some reporter trying to stir the pot? -- Fred, Frankfort
It isn’t about the time Carimi is missing as much as it is about the statement he is making. He is showing a lack of interest in the new offense and the new techniques being taught. He is not embracing the new strength and conditioning program. He is not prioritizing bonding with teammates. And he is not doing all he can to compete for a job. But he can make everyone forget all that very quickly if he comes to training camp and starts putting defenders on their backs.
This week, Brad Biggs quoted a Gabe Carimi advisor as saying that Carimi's absence from organized team activities is a "gamble." What did the advisor mean by that? The downside to Carimi is obvious: he is missing team practices under a new coaching staff. But the word "gamble" implies that Carimi sees the possibility of a big upside from this decision. Could you spell out what that upside might be? And where do you put his odds? -- Chris C. from Chicago
I don’t want to put words in the mouth of LeCharles Bentley, but I can tell you how I interpreted his words. I think he meant he and Carimi believe Carimi will be better prepared to succeed in the NFL if Carimi is following Bentley’s training regimen than if he is following the Bears’ training regimen. I really don’t know enough about what Carimi is doing in Arizona to play handicapper for you.
Who is the Bears’ backup center? Especially since dressing only seven linemen? -- @UndeniablyVic, from Twitter
First of all, don’t assume they will dress only seven offensive linemen on game day. They will dress as many as Trestman feels he needs on a given day. But there is no question the Bears will need versatility from their backup blockers. If Edwin Williams sticks, he is a good possibility to be active because he can play center and both guard positions. It is also likely the team will try to teach another player they are fairly confident will be active most weeks to back up the center position. Newly acquired guard Matt Slausen looks like he could be a potential candidate to me.
Which rookie for the Bears do you think will have the greatest impact this season? I’m thinking the DE Cornelius Washington. -- @XXX CandyMan, from Twitter
I will be stunned if it isn’t Kyle Long. Barring something unforeseen, I expect Long will be the only rookie who gets significant playing time outside of special teams. If there is a sleeper in the rookie class in terms of quick impact, I’d say it is wide receiver Marquess Wilson.
What is your read on Robbie Gould's surgery? Not much is being said, and the three year signing of Austin Signor makes him more than just a camp leg. Are we about to lose Mr. Automatic? -- Chuck Durante, Guilin, China
No need to panic. I’ll be very surprised if Gould is not healthy and kicking well going into the season opener. Signor is a camp leg. Pay no attention to the number of years on his deal.
Dan, by your count, how many of the 53 roster spots are up for grabs in camp? -- @Mkatz319, from Twitter
I say 23 roster spots are up for grabs and 30 are pretty much set in stone. That’s a lot of roster spots up for competition. But that is what should be expected with a new coaching staff. Of the 30 locks I count, eight are first time Bears. So that means only 22 returning Bears are locks in my opinion. Some players who may have been locks under Lovie Smith aren’t necessarily locks under Trestman. And a new staff might mean the Bears will be more inclined to sift through others leftovers after cutdowns and make pickups that lead to more cuts.
When going through the submitted questions of the week, do you try to answer at least question from the galactically stupid every week for just the pure comedic value of the dumb question? Or do you really believe in the theory of there is no dumb questions? Either way, I love reading these "well thought out" questions from Bears fans. These questions seem to give Da Super Fans even more legitimacy in my mind now. I mean, I'm really starting to believe that Da Coach could beat Michael Jordan in basketball 125 to 2. With both bad hips. And a cigar in his mouth too! -- Bill Murphy, Chicago
As a reporter who has asked many questions that have left people shaking their heads, I long ago adopted the policy that there is no such thing as a dumb question. A question that another reader asks may seem stupid to you, or to me, but it didn’t seem stupid to the person who asked it. Another thing I’ve observed along the way is sometimes questions asked by others that seemed stupid to me have gotten really good answers. So I just think it’s prudent to treat the whole process with dignity and respect. Then again, there are a lot of questions I receive that I choose not to answer. I guess the ones I answer are the ones I find to be the best ones. You might call them the “least stupid.”