Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
I see that sacks accumulated by players before sacks became an official statistic in 1982 are now being incorporated into statistics. How does that change the Bears' all-time leaders in sacks?
I'm very happy that this transpired; I think it's really important to gain an even greater appreciation for certain players. Pro Football Reference, which credited exhaustive research by John Turney and Nick Webster, has updated its sack data going back to 1960, or 22 years before sacks became an official NFL statistic. Nothing will change in terms of official NFL stats, but it is very interesting information. In terms of the Bears, it shows that three players recorded at least 14.0 sacks in a single season between 1960-81: Jim Osborne with 15.0 in 1976, Willie Holman with 14.5 in 1979 and Wally Chambers with 14.0 in 1975. The only higher totals since sacks became official in 1982 were both recorded by Richard Dent with 17.5 in 1984 and 17.0 in 1985. As far as how it impacts the Bears' all-time leaders, the first three players on the list remain the same. But while Dent (124.5) and Steve McMichael (92.5) recorded all their sacks after sacks became official in 1982, Dan Hampton's total increases from 57.0 to 82.0 with the addition of the 25 he registered in three seasons from 1979-81. Osborne's output jumps from the 10.0 sacks he compiled from 1982-85 all the way up to 81.0, good for fourth place on the Bears' all-time list. Osborne, a defensive tackle, reached double digits three times in sacks. He's a perfect example of a player who should garner more recognition based on the stats that were discovered by Pro Football Reference's researchers.
I'm interested to see who the Bears will utilize as their kickoff returner this season and was wondering if you could list the players on their roster who have experience returning kicks. Thank you.
Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will have several options to choose from in seeking a replacement for Cordarrelle Patterson this season. Five Bears players have returned kickoffs in the NFL. The most experienced are running backs Tarik Cohen and Damien Williams, both of whom have returned 30 kickoffs. Cohen, who is returning from a torn ACL he sustained in the Bears' third game last season, hasn't returned kickoffs on a regular basis since his rookie year in 2017 when he averaged 22.4 yards on 26 returns. Cohen has been the Bears' main punt returner throughout his career, so we'll have to see if Tabor wants to add more to Cohen's plate as he returns from his knee injury. Williams, meanwhile, averaged 19.5 yards on 30 kickoff returns with the Dolphins from 2014-17. Other Bears who've returned kickoffs in the NFL include receivers Anthony Miller, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd. Bears who returned kickoffs in college include second-year running back Artavis Pierce and two rookie sixth-round draft picks, running back Khalil Herbert and receiver Dazz Newsome.
When can we expect to see Khyiris Tonga on the starting defensive line?
Raleighwood, North Carolina
Earning a starting job as a rookie seventh-round pick is a big ask, especially for a nose tackle joining a roster that features veteran defensive tackles Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols. I'm sure the Bears would be thrilled if Khyiris Tonga develops enough as a rookie to join the defensive line rotation at some point this season, or at the very least continue to hone his skills on the practice squad.
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.