May 14, 2013; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Cornelius Washington (78) during organized team activities at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Countdown to Kickoff...78 Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener

I decided to do a countdown to the Chicago Bears season opener on September 8th versus the Cincinnati Bengals.  Thanks to one of my Twitter followers, I decided to combine the countdown with a roster preview of sorts.

We’re James Brown days after from kickoff.  Or we’re Cornelius Washington days from the start of the 2013 Bears season.  I guess it depends which side of the ball to gravitate towards.  As I said the other day, this is the time of year when you’ll see some players double up on the numbers, so let’s get to know both of these up and comers who are both expected to compete and contribute in the 2013 season. 

James Brown in an undrafted left tackle out of Troy University.   It was surprising that he wasn’t drafted, as some scouts had him ranked in the middle rounds of the 2012 draft, so the Bears scooped him up.  He played tackle in college but the Bears project him to be a guard.  He’s been keeping Kyle Long’s seat warm for him while Long had to sit out most of OTA’s because of a silly rule prohibiting him from participating until Oregon’s academic year ended.

The Bears are pretty high on Brown, who stepped in and performed decently when called up last season, starting 3 games and appearing in 5 all together.  Now that Gabe Carimi is gone, he’ll compete with Kyle Long, Eben Britton among others. Don’t be surprised if Brown can win the starting job over Long, who has limited experience and is even further behind after missing the offseason program.

On the defensive side of the #78 coin, you have Defensive End Cornelius Washington.  Washington was drafted in the sixth round out of Georgia, where he was an outside linebacker.  The Bears see the 6’5″ 265 pounder as a pass rushing defensive end specialist.  They’re trying to catch lightning in a bottle like they did with Mark Anderson in their Super Bowl XLI season, where the late-round rookie make a splash with double digit sacks.

Washington has an uphill battle to earn playing time as a defensive end, behind guys like Julius Peppers, former first round pick Shea McClellin, Corey Wooton, Turk McBride and Kyle Moore.  I think Washington is part of Phil Emery’s plan to switch to a 3-4 defense down the road, but we’ll see about that.

You would think the biggest Bear to wear #78 has to be Keith Van Horne of the ’85 Bears, but he stood only 6’6″ and 265 pounds.  Didn’t he seem like a giant back then?  I’d say the “biggest” Bear to wear #78 was OT Aaron Gibson, who stood 6’6″ but weighed in at a whopping 375 pounds.

We’re 78 days from kickoff.  Are you ready???

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