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Which veteran will have breakout year?

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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.

Which Bears veteran do you think will have a breakout season like Zach Miller did last year?

Phil L.
Owensboro, Kentucky

I'm going to go with defensive end Akiem Hicks. The 6-5, 324-pounder signed with the Bears as a free agent in March after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Saints (2012-15) and Patriots (2015). Hicks played very well at times after being acquired by New England last Sept. 30 and seems (at least to me) like he's poised to have a breakout season on a defense that will also feature outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Kyle Long has raved about Hicks while facing him in OTAs, and Kyle's endorsement is enough for me to believe that Hicks has the potential to have an impactful first season with the Bears.

I remember watching Walter Payton carry the Bears for about a decade before they became a better team later in his career. What was the Bears' record when Sweetness ran for 100 yards?

Roger T.
Aurora, Illinois

Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton started a Bears record 184 games during his illustrious career from 1975-87. In those contests, the team went 53-24 (.688) when he rushed for at least 100 yards and 55-52 (.514) when he didn't.

I've watched highlights of all the players the Bears drafted and was really impressed with fourth-round pick Deon Bush. Wow that kid can hit. Is there a possibility of him starting this season?

Jay M.
Bloomington, Illinois

Safety is about as wide open as any position heading into training camp, so I would say that Deon Bush will have an opportunity to win the job. Adrian Amos started all 16 games as a rookie last year after being selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the draft out of Penn State. But the transition from college football to the NFL isn't easy and Bush must show that he's capable of mastering the game physically and mentally. He certainly is a big hitter who shows no fear throwing his body around in the secondary. After he was drafted by the Bears, Bush told reporters that he likes to "put fear in my opponents," which you know will endear him to Bears fans. It's going to be fun to monitor Bush's progress in training camp and watch him play in preseason games.

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