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'm having trouble finding information about these changes that were made last year: 1) Is the additional playoff team permanent? 2) Will the expanded practice squad positions and rules still be in place or go back to what they were in the past? 3) Will injured reserve rules be the same or go back to what they were pre-COVID?
Yes, the additional playoff team is permanent. The Collective Bargaining Agreement that was ratified in 2020 included the expansion of the playoffs from six to seven teams in each conference, beginning as early as 2021. As I'm sure you already know, the Bears qualified as the NFC's No. 7 and final seed in last year's playoffs. The second and third questions you asked involved changes that were made due to COVID-19 last season. During a recent media call, NFL chief administrator of football operations Dawn Aponte revealed that both provisions will remain in effect this year. As a result, teams will be able to carry 16 players on their practice squads (instead of 12) with a maximum of six players with unlimited experience. For the second year in a row, they also will be able to return an unlimited number of players from injured reserve to their active rosters as long as they've spent a minimum of three weeks on IR. After three weeks, the player can return to practice. Once he returns to practice, the team has 21 days to put him back on the active roster.
When was the last time the Bears blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown?
The last time that happened was Nov. 4, 2012, in Tennessee when a pair of Northwestern products teamed up. Sherrick McManis blocked a Titans punt and Corey Wootton returned it five yards for a touchdown. It was part of a 28-point first quarter during which the Bears scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams en route to a 51-20 victory. The 28 points remain the most the Bears have ever scored in a first quarter in franchise history.
Are you on some kind of diet that doesn't allow lunch? When are you going to host "Lunch with Larry" again? And if you do host one soon, could you please post a notice beforehand on ChicagoBears.com?
I can assure you that I'm not on a diet, Fabian! The plan is for "Lunch with Larry," my hourlong Q-and-A with Bears fans every Tuesday throughout the season, to return to ChicagoBears.com Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day, leading into the NFL's opening weekend. I'm looking forward to another fun season of "Lunch with Larry" and greatly appreciate your interest in it.
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.