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Chalk Talk

Who will pick up slack minus Jeffery?

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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.

I know that replacing Alshon Jeffery during his four-game suspension will be a group effort, but who do you think will get the most reps and catches in his absence?

Stan R.
Indiana

I do think the Bears will spread it around more on offense with receivers Cameron Meredith, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson and tight end Zach Miller all picking up the slack during Alshon Jeffery's suspension. But if I had to pick one individual whose stats could increase the most over the next four games I would choose Meredith. I've been extremely high on him since training camp, repeatedly referring to him as the team's most underrated player, and I think he will step up in a major way with Jeffery unavailable. Meredith has excellent size, hands and route-running ability, and the more he plays with Jay Cutler the more productive he will be.

How did Eddie Goldman fare in his first game against the Buccaneers? I was very happy to see him overcome his injury but am worried that he got hurt again in Tampa.

Peter L.
Oak Forest, Illinois

Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was pleased with how nose tackle Eddie Goldman played against the Bucs, saying this week: "I think Eddie did well. He did even better than I thought he would coming off the ankle." Goldman missed six games after hurting his ankle in a Week 2 loss to the Eagles. He aggravated it late in the Tampa game and did not practice Wednesday, but here's hoping he will be able to play Sunday against the Giants. Like I said in a recent "Chalk Talk," Goldman is a very important member of the defense because the Bears don't have another player like him who can collapse the pocket and stuff the run like he can.

I haven't be too impressed with kickoff returner Deonte Thompson. He repeatedly makes poor decisions taking the ball out of the end zone and doesn't gain many yards. Are the Bears thinking about replacing him?

Wade K.
Hammond, Indiana

Listening to special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers during his weekly press conference Wednesday, it sounded like no move was imminent but the evaluation is ongoing. Here's what Rodgers had to say: "We have not identified Deonte as an issue. If that were to be the case, I'm sure we'd have some other candidates. But it's not like he's the only guy working in practice. There's constant evaluation, a constant competition. If we felt like that'd be something that would help us, then we'd act on it." Thompson ranks 13th in the NFL among kickoff returners with an average of 19.9 yards and a long of 32 yards.

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