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Chalk Talk

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Will Bears volunteer for 'Hard Knocks?'

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 heard that the Bears are on the short list for teams that qualify for the HBO show "Hard Knocks." Do you think that the Bears will volunteer for the show?

Kim E.
Schaumburg, Illinois

While the Bears are one of eight NFL teams that can be forced to be on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this year, they have no plans to volunteer for the show. General manager Phil Emery revealed Thursday that other teams would benefit more from the opportunity, saying: "We have a great camp. We have great media. We have fan interest unlike any other city. This is the best NFL city, bar none. Our media is the best in the league, bar none. Our coverage is outstanding. Our fans love going to camp to find out more about our players. There are a number of teams that don't have as much attraction, as big a base for whatever reasons, their population or their history. This is a tremendous, historic franchise. There will probably be other places that could benefit from it other than the Chicago Bears." The NFL can force teams that don't have a new head coach and haven't made the playoffs the past two years to do "Hard Knocks." Clubs that meet those criteria in addition to the Bears are the Bills, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams and Steelers.

Who will be the Bears' starting linebackers this season?

Roger T.
Oak Forest, Illinois

I can tell you definitively that seven-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs will be the starter at weakside linebacker, but it's too early to say who will join him at the middle and strongside position. D.J. Williams, Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and converted defensive end Shea McClellin will compete for the two spots, and the Bears may add more candidates via the draft or free agency. Said Bears general manager Phil Emery: "The only person we've told has a job is Lance Briggs. The rest of it is best player wins."

Do you think the Bears will play Jeremiah Ratliff at the three-technique or nose position this year?

Evan B.
Lima, Ohio

The Bears feel that veteran Jeremiah Ratliff is versatile enough to play both defensive tackle positions. They were very pleased with how Ratliff, a four-time Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys, performed after joining the Bears late last season. Said general manager Phil Emery: "We can see him playing three-technique or nose tackle. He's very interchangeable. It will depend on what the best grouping of players is. Jeremiah has come in in great shape. He's got a great attitude. I'm very excited to see him get on the field and compete. As he started getting into shape [last season], he started making plays. He's extremely strong. He's a dynamic presence. He's somebody that can really hold the point of attack, and he can penetrate. He showed us good rush ability. He was used in a limited way, but the more he was used and the better shape he got in, he showed us that there's a reason he was a Pro Bowl player."

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