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.
Do you think that Roquan Smith will make an immediate impact as a rookie?
Little Rock, Arkansas
Yes, I do expect the Bears' first-round draft pick to earn a starting job at inside linebacker and make an impact as a rookie. Roquan Smith impressed me during offseason workouts with his speed and instincts, and it was evident that he was playing faster as he gained a better grasp of the defense. Smith was highly productive at Georgia, winning the Butkus Award last season as the nation's top linebacker after leading the Bulldogs with 137 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 14.0 tackles-for-loss and 20 quarterback hits. While it's important to temper expectations a bit because Smith is still a rookie—I've heard people compare him to Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs—I do think that Bears fans will be happy with how the Georgia product performs this season.
When was the last time the Bears opened the season against the Packers?
The Bears will open the season against their arch rivals this year for the first time since 2015 when they lost to the Packers 31-15 at Soldier Field. The Bears last beat the Packers in a season opener in 2006 when they blanked Green Bay 26-0 in what was the only home shutout in quarterback Brett Favre's career with the Packers. The Bears have opened the season a total of 32 times versus Green Bay and are 17-13-2 in those games.
Where do you think Brian Urlacher ranks among the Bears' great middle linebackers?
Morton Grove, Illinois
The Bears have an impressive "Mount Rushmore" of middle linebackers, with Brian Urlacher about to join Bill George, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In terms of ranking them, I will eliminate George because he played before I was born and will say that I feel Butkus was the best, followed by Urlacher and then Singletary. An eight-time Pro Bowler, Butkus remains arguably the most ferocious defensive player in NFL history. Just hearing his name no doubt gives some of his former opponents nightmares. Urlacher was nearly as dominant, possessing an extremely rare combination of size, speed and athleticism that enabled him to make some pretty remarkable plays, running sideline-to-sideline to stuff runs and dropping deep down the middle to break up or intercept passes.