Bernard Berrian walked into the locker room Thursday carrying an unopened package of gloves.

Like most receivers, Berrian wears gloves no matter the temperature so it had nothing to do with the Chicago weather turning crisp enough for many Bears players to wear knit caps for their morning walk-through. Maybe Berrian just needed a new pair because the old ones had been worn out from overuse -- and how long has it been since a Bears No. 2 wide receiver could say that after four games?

"It's not because of the cold, just something that happened at practice, no big deal,'' Berrian said.

Berrian has been wearing out defensive backs as badly as his gloves, catching 15 passes for 316 yards and three TDs in the first four games. He leads the league with three TDs of 40 or more yards. It would be hard to find a more improved wide receiver in the NFL this season.

That's a relevant point to ponder this week with the Buffalo Bills coming to town. Lining up at wide receiver for the Bills is Lee Evans, the team's No. 1 draft pick in 2004 two rounds before Berrian went to the Bears.

Many draft projections that year had Evans going in the first round to the Bears, who badly needed a speed component to their receiving corps. But GM Jerry Angelo decided to hold onto the 14th pick, which looks like one of his shrewdest decisions ever 2 1/2 years later.

The Bears used it to select defensive tackle Tommie Harris. Evans went off the board one pick earlier when the Bills took him at No. 13.

Harris just won NFC defensive player of the week honors for the second time in four games and has been compared this week at Halas Hall to Warren Sapp, John Randle and Alan Page.

Evans, the former Wisconsin star, has worked out nicely for the Bills with 96 catches and 16 touchdowns over his first two seasons. His stats so far this season--19 catches, 241 yards and zero TDs--aren't better than Berrian's.

So how do Bills fans reflect on that '04 draft, knowing Buffalo passed on a player such as Harris for a deep threat like Evans they perhaps still could have gotten in a later round? That's a question only they can answer. Here's my best stab at answering yours.

Ian Scott is fine, but Tank Johnson wreaks havoc. Why is Johnson the third defensive tackle? --Jeremy Kalmanofsky, New York

He is more like the No. 2-A tackle. The depth chart is not so much a reflection that Scott is better than Johnson, only different. Scott plays the run better but Johnson rushes the passer with more abandon and creates more big-play possibilities with his speed, quickness and reckless pursuit. How they divvy up snaps depends on the personnel in the game -- Johnson actually started against Seattle because of the personnel grouping -- and each serves his specific purpose well.

Scott was drafted by the Dick Jauron regime that required defensive tackles to be more of a roothog and clog running lanes and changed his body type to adapt to the new streamlined Lovie Smith system. Johnson was a truer fit for Smith's scheme for the reasons that he has shown in his first three seasons in the league. And, oh, yeah, both guys are better because of the attention paid Tommie Harris, the best defensive tackle in the league.

David, I see that you have dutifully answered questions about Lance Briggs for two consecutive weeks. I just want to know, in your opinion, your gut feeling, if you think he will be back next season and, more importantly, perhaps sign a long-term extension. Although Jerry Angelo has made some questionable moves here and there, I believe his policy of re-signing his own players before free agency to be extremely cost-effective and successful in keeping the core together. The fact that Briggs will not fall under that category is troublesome to me. --Clark, Dallas

You asked for a gut feeling, so I will follow instinct only in saying the Bears and Briggs will find a way to make it work. Salary cap guru Cliff Stein has a history for shrewdly manipulating contracts so they fit into the Bears' structure without limiting their flexibility. My sense is Briggs, as charismatic as they come in the NFL, will see the opportunities that exist for him in the Chicago market -- especially for a player off a playoff or, dare we say it, Super Bowl team. Money talks, sure, and if he's driven solely by the dollar then Briggs might find greener ($$$) pastures elsewhere. But he also might consider whether, say, Cleveland or Indianapolis would open the same marketing avenues and what his life would be like not having Brian Urlacher alongside him to preoccupy offensive lines.

Last week you said "If Briggs leaves the Bears after this season, all they receive in return would be memories because he's an unrestricted free-agent." But wouldn't the Bears been eligible for consideration to receive a compensatory draft pick in 2008, depending on whom they sign versus whom they lose? --Vic Fiebig, Springfield, Va.

Technically, you could be right. But it's complicated. Compensatory picks go to teams that lose more free agents than they sign. According to a formula developed by the NFL Management Council, compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lose "more or better compensatory free agents than they acquire." The picks come at the end of either the third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh rounds depending on the value of the contracts of the players lost. No team can receive more than four compensatory picks and the number depends on how many players a team loses to free agency. But if the Bears sign more free agents than they lose, even if one of them is Briggs, the complex league formula would not permit them to receive a compensatory draft pick. Last April, 32 compensatory picks were awarded to 19 teams, with the Jets receiving the highest in the third round after losing four free agents.

I've heard the Bears' offense referred to as a version of the West Coast. Is that what it is? My armchair QB mind thinks of short drops and timing passes. Rex Grossman seems to like to drop deep and chuck it. Isn't Ron Turner's brother Norv Turner, who runs more a power run game, and a vertical passing game? --Niel Magsombol, Naperville, Ill.

Think of the West Coast as a general description that different coaches interpret differently depending on their tastes. It's like food. One Italian restaurant may specialize in lasagna and fettuccine while another makes the best pizza and calzones. It's all under the heading of Italian food, as different as it is. It's the same way with the West Coast offense. Turner introduced the West Coast offense with the Bears in 1993. (And on a side note, Jim Harbaugh still credits Turner for teaching him the tenets that Harbaugh uses today as the head coach of the University of San Diego.) The beauty of Turner's offense now, under Grossman, is that he picks and chooses plays and formations like he's ordering off a menu to tailor the game plan to his personnel. Deep passes, short passes, power running, edge running -- it's all part of the West Coast offense. So far, the choices Turner has made have been palatable to Bears fans.