Mailbag: Wright off to encouraging start
June, 22, 2010
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Q: JD, can you give us an update on Major Wright? I've heard plenty of talk about Chris Harris, Danieal Manning and Craig Steltz, but little on the rookie. Thanks for all your hard work. -- Matthew, San Jose, Calif.
Warren Wimmer/Icon SMIMajor Wright, who will compete for a starting spot at safety, should make an impact in 2010.
A: Matthew, I'm happy to report Wright's tenure in Chicago is off to a very encouraging start because the rookie sounds determined to not only play well on the field, but also act the proper way off it. I was told Wright approached at least one prominent veteran player this offseason to inquire about the professionalism necessary to succeed in this market and in the NFL. That sounds like a rookie who gets it. On the field, Wright continues to work his way up the depth chart, lining up with Steltz on the second team. At the moment, it looks like Steltz may be the third safety -- he filled in for Harris during last week's open OTA -- but Wright obviously is expected to contribute in the near future. If he continues his humble and hard-working approach, Wright will see the field much sooner rather than later.
Q: Jeff, is Al Afalava still on the team? He's never mentioned when people discuss the safety spot. What gives? -- Peter, Davenport, Iowa
A: Afalava is facing a numbers crunch at safety because right now, he's definitely behind Harris, Manning, Steltz and Wright on the depth chart. If the Bears decide to keep five safeties, that last spot should boil down to Afalava or Josh Bullocks. Even though Afalava is cheaper, Bullocks probably is a better special teams contributor, and that may be the deciding factor. Plus, Bullocks has plenty of experience and performed well at the end of last season. It may be a tough call, but I'd probably lean toward keeping Bullocks over Afalava. This is not meant as a knock against Afalava, who played admirably after being thrown into the fire last year as a sixth-round pick, but I think Bullocks is more valuable at this point of his career.
Q: Will the Bears finally find a role for Garrett Wolfe? He was a third-round draft choice and barely sees the field. Jeff, can you solve this mystery for a diehard Bears' fan? -- Elliot T., Wauconda, Ill.
A: Elliot, I still can't fathom why the Bears ran Wolfe (5 foot 7, 185 pounds) between the tackles last season. It made no sense. None. Wolfe needs to hit the corners and have some room to operate in the open field, then he could be a nice compliment to the offense. I mentioned earlier about the safety numbers, it also will be interesting to see how many backs the Bears keep on the final 53-man roster. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor are the only locks at this point, so it's unclear how much room is available for the likes of Wolfe, Kahlil Bell, Will Ta'ufo'ou and Eddie Williams, especially if the Bears open the season again with four tight ends. Wolfe always has been a solid guy on special teams, which helps when it comes to sticking on the roster. But only time will tell if the Bears can finally find a niche for Wolfe on offense. It's really a tough call.
Q: Jeff, in your opinion, what's the Bears' deepest position? We love the Bears coverage even down South. Thanks. -- Robbie, Macon, Ga.
A: Linebacker. The Bears are loaded at linebacker. Not only are Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher Pro Bowl-caliber players, Nick Roach, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer have a combined 178 starts between them. Then there's the issue of versatility; Roach and Hillenmeyer can play middle linebacker and strong, while Tinoisamoa can handle strong and weakside linebacker duties if necessary. Adding Tim Shaw and Brian Iwuh within the past year only makes this group stronger. Shaw already has carved out an impressive nice on special teams, and Iwuh is expected to do the same.
Q: Not much lately on Greg Olsen. How has he looked at OTAs? -- Alex T., Glenview, Ill.
A: Not to beat a dead horse, but the media is only allowed access to a few OTAs, so we can't see everything taking place at Halas Hall this offseason. But from what we've been allowed to view, Olsen and Desmond Clark both look fine. I haven't noticed a ton of deep balls to Olsen -- unlike last year in training camp -- but the tight ends have been active in most of the 7-on-7 and full-team drills. We'll see how Brandon Manumaleuna effects the dynamic once he is thrown into the mix, but the Bears are again strong at tight end. I've also enjoyed watching Kellen Davis and Richard Angulo battle it out for the fourth spot. That should be a good competition this summer, considering the positive history Angulo has with Mike Tice and Martz. Angulo is a big guy (6-8) who has been held back by knee problems at other stops in the league. If he stays healthy, Angulo has the ability to be an extremely effective blocker and short-yardage receiver.