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Chalk Talk


Who will be a game-changer this season?

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

From what you've seen this offseason, who do you think has been below the radar but will be a game-changer or at least a contributor this season?

Eric R.
St. Louis, Missouri

I'm not sure if you would consider him an under-the-radar type player, but Earl Bennett is someone who I think will have a huge season in 2012. He's a very skilled receiver who excels at doing the "dirty" work over the middle and on third down. Whenever the Bears need a crucial play to made, it seems like Bennett always delivers. He's been productive in the past, but I think he will have a tremendous season in part due to defenses focusing more attention on outside receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as well as running back Matt Forte coming out of the backfield. Even with Marshall on board, I think that Bennett could very well lead the Bears in receptions this year.

If Gabe Carimi is the best lineman on the Bears, why don't they play him at left tackle and let J'Marcus Well play right tackle or have the competition between Webb and Chris Williams at right tackle?

D. Paul C.
San Rafael, California

The traits the players possess dictate which positions they play, and the Bears feel that Gabe Carimi boasts the size, strength and power to excel at right tackle, while J'Marcus Webb is better suited to play left tackle due in part to his athleticism and quickness. It does help, however, that Carimi and Webb have experience at both positions, especially if injuries force the Bears to juggle their linemen.

What is the key for the Bears defense to play at a championship level this season?

Edward F.
Valdosta, Georgia

Staying healthy is obviously the most important thing. Other than that, I would say generating a consistent pass rush from the front four, which means that someone such as tackle Henry Melton or rookie end Shea McClellin develops into a force on the line to complement Julius Peppers. If the Bears aren't force to blitz, it will allow them to drop seven defenders into coverage and force turnovers.

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