Chicago Bears Training Camp Preview: Defensive Line

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Sep 21, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers defensive tackle Ego Ferguson (9) tackles Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason (21) as he carries the ball in the second quarter against the Auburn Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch

Jared Allen highlights the list of players to watch.  We’ve all watched him and cheered against him the last few years while he was with the Vikings.  Now, it’s time to see Allen do his little calf roping dance in the Navy and Orange.  Allen’s best football is probably in the rear view mirror, but if the Bears can convince him to cut down his workload a bit and work in a rotation a bit more, the hope is that they can maximize his effort in passing situations and get the sack numbers up.

Oct 6, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins (93) reacts to making a sack against New Orleans Saints quarterback

Drew Brees

(9) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Another player to keep an eye on is Nate Collins.  The Bears brought him back as he recovers from a torn ACL that he suffered in Week 5.  If Collins can bounce back, it will add an important veteran presence for the Bears DT rotation.  Behind Ratliff and Paea, both of whom have had their share of injury problems, there’s a lot of inexperience in the middle of that D-line.  Collins would be a welcomed component if he can show that he’s healthy.

The rookie draft picks Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton round out the guys I’m going to be keying on in the preseason.  Ego is a little bit more of an unknown to many fans as he was just starting to realize his potential at LSU. Sutton, on the other hand, was well decorated for the Sun Devils, but will look to bounce back after a disappointing campaign in 2013.

Roster Projection (10)

Allen, Houston, Young, Paea, Ratliff, Sutton, Ferguson, Collins, Bass, Washington

The first seven names I listed above are pretty much locks in my book.  Things get interesting the last few spots.  I think Collins should make the squad as long as he’s healthy.  The last two spots are pretty much up for grabs.  David Bass was a Raiders 7th round draft pick who they tried to sneak across waivers, but the Bears scooped him up before the season started.  He took nearly 40% of the Bears defensive snaps last season and appeared overmatched at times.  He could benefit from coming in on passing downs to be a pass rush specialist when Allen or Houston need a blow.  I’ve tabbed Cornelius Washington for the last spot, because he’s an Emery draft pick from last season and I think he will be  put in a position to succeed.  If he can play special teams, he’ll make it.

 Final Word

There’s no where to go but up for a historically bad defensive line from 2013.  The totally re-built group should be leaps and bounds better than what we saw in 2013.