By Laurence Holmes-
(CBS) The mailbag heats up this week as the Bears get ready for their first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday. Let’s get to your questions:
Laurence, I just finished listening to the podcast of your show with Dan Bernstein from Friday. When discussing the Soldier Field turf problems, you mentioned that the Bears always have pristine practice fields both at Halas Hall and ONU. Does it give the Bears any kind of disadvantage to practice on turf that’s that much better than their home games & do teams generally simulate the playing surfaces they’re visiting? Thanks. – Scott, Phoenix, Ariz.
Scott, I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast. The fields at Halas & ONU are maintained by Bears head groundskeeper Ken Mrock. He does an incredible job keeping those fields ready for practice. It’s an interesting point you make about practicing on a better surface than the one you play on, but I don’t think it would be a good idea for the Bears to damage their fields just to simulate the turf at Soldier Field.
When it comes to different surfaces, the Bears actually have an aritifical surface inside the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall. So if they’re playing a team like Detroit or Minnesota, they will go inside and practice in there. They also pump artificial noise in to get the players used to that. In the last couple of years, they’ve added noise when they prep for home games because Bears fans tend to make noise when the offense is on the field.
Are the Bears going after Lofa Tatupu? – Craig, Dallas, Tex.
I think Tatupu is on their radar, Craig, but there are some challenges if they want to bring him in. He’s still young (28), but he’s had a bunch of injuries: broken thumb, a knee drain, hamstring pulls, a torn pectoral and a knee operation in the offseason. From a scheme standpoint, he could be a fit, but in Seattle, Tatupu played middle linebacker. With the Bears, he would be asked to switch to strong side linebacker. It may not seem like a big difference, but it is. The SLB takes a lot of punishment and Hunter Hillenmeyer used to refer to it as the “garbage man” position. Can Tatupu take that pounding and stay uninjured?
I’ve only heard Mike Martz refer to the question once but isn’t Kellen Davis a BIG reason they sent Olsen away? – Brandon, Chicago
Greg Olsen was not happy with his role in the Mike Martz offense. He thought that he could produce more and according to Jerry Angelo, asked for a trade last year. At the time the Bears didn’t think that was the best course of action for the team. They wanted as many playmakers around Jay Cutler as possible. In the Martz offense, tight ends are usually asked to do more blocking than pass-catching. Olsen is built more to be a pass-cactcher. As for Kellen Davis, he is a big strong guy that the Bears think can help set the edge on run plays and take on a defensive end 1-on-1. He’s also pretty athletic. At Michigan State, Davis played defensive end along with tight end. Last year, he only caught one ball. Expect that number to increase this season. I actually like the trio that they have now: Davis, Matt Spaeth and Desmond Clark. It’s an interesting mix. Let’s see how it works.
Hey law-home, Who has the biggest struggles this year: the highly publicized offensive line, or the,”Shhh, don’t talk about the secondary” secondary? WHO YA GOT? – Tony, Warrenville
Tony, the hope is that neither unit struggles. For now, the secondary has a group that was at least on the roster last year: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Chris Harris and Major Wright. You can’t have enough depth at that spot, so the Bears possibly looking to add Kelvin Hayden (Hubbard High School, University of Illinois) makes a lot of sense to me, but now it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.
The offensive line has so many new parts: J’Marcus Webb moving to the left side, Gabe Carimi possibly starting as a rookie with no offseason, Roberto Garza moving from guard to center and Lance Louis being inserted as a starter. That’s a lot of change. It’ll be up to Mike Tice to make sure the transition away from Olin Kreutz goes smoothly. Building cohesion and trust in where your linemate is will be one of the biggest challenges.
Great questions. Remember that we do the mailbag every Tuesday. Send your questions to me: Laurence.Holmes@cbsradio.com and remember to follow me on Twitter (@lholmes670).