Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
I'm very happy the Bears have been so active in addressing their defense. What do you think is the best move they've made since the start of free agency?
I really like the additions of defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, but in my opinion the Bears' best move since the start of free agency has been the re-signing of Charles Tillman to a one-year contract. The veteran cornerback turned 33 last month, but he keeps himself in excellent shape and clearly still has a couple of good years of football left in him. Tillman is a two-time Pro Bowler who is still capable of playing at that high level. I've never seen anyone who is better at creating turnovers, and that cannot be understated. I've heard some people outside the building question his durability because of last season. But I don't think you can assume that he'll get hurt this year just because he suffered knee and arm injuries that forced him to miss eight games last season. Prior to 2013, he had missed only seven games in nine seasons. I know he's determined to rebound this year and I feel that he will have another excellent year with the Bears.
Do you really feel that the Bears upgraded their defense with ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young? They both started last season but combined to record only nine sacks.
Franklin Park, Illinois
I don't think there's any question that the Bears improved their defense by signing ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Sacks are important, but sometimes it's a statistic that doesn't tell the whole story. Houston (6 sacks last year with the Raiders) and Young (3 sacks with the Lions) are both big, tough and versatile ends who play with a mean streak and are ascending in their careers. The Bears wanted to add size and toughness to their defense, and they accomplished that. Plus the defense struggled mightily against the run last season, and Houston and Young both excel in that area. You have to earn the right to rush the passer by stopping the run, and I think the Bears defense will be more equipped to do that this season in large part because of these two players.
This isn't really a football question, but how many Bears players went to colleges that are in the NCAA basketball tournament?
Warwick, Rhode Island
Nineteen Bears players went to colleges that made the NCAA basketball tournament: Jon Bostic (Florida), Lance Briggs (Arizona), Willie Carter (Tulsa), Nate Collins (Virginia), Tony Fiammetta (Syracuse), Lamarr Houston (Texas), Demontre Hurst (Oklahoma), Kyle Long (Oregon), Fendi Onobun (Arizona), Derricus Purdy (Texas Southern), Tracy Robertson (Baylor), Dante Rosario (Oregon), Matt Slauson (Nebraska), Charles Tillman (Louisiana) Tress Way (Oklahoma), Chris Williams (New Mexico State), C.J. Wilson (North Carolina State), Lawrence Wilson (Connecticut) and Willie Young (North Carolina State).