We’ll be switching sides of the ball today and looking at the Bears’ defensive line for the upcoming 2013 season. The D-line has been a stronger part of the team in recent years, and it will look to continue the trend. Chicago lost Israel Idonije via free agency and let go of Matt Toeaina in the offseason. The Bears did however sign former New Orleans Saint Sedrick Ellis to a one year deal and draft Cornelius Washington out of Georgia in the sixth round. The two new additions will provide good depth for the line.
The defensive front will once again be led by eight-time Pro Bowler Julius Peppers. Peppers had another great season in 2012 with 11.5 sacks. Since being signed in 2010, he has 30.5 sacks in three seasons. He has certainly been everything the Bears had hoped for, and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon, despite being 33 years of age now.
On the opposite side of Peppers will more than likely be Corey Wootton, who will be entering his fourth season, all with the Bears. Wootton had his breakout season last year with seven sacks. He will be looked upon to step up even more with the departure of Idonije, who he split time with last season.
Up the middle at the defensive tackle spots will be Henry Melton and Stephen Paea. Melton had yet another good season last year as he tallied up six sacks and two forced fumbles. He was franchise tagged this offseason and will be in line to make just over eight million dollars this year, but he remains hopeful to get a long term deal done to remain with the team after this season. Paea will be stepping in for Toeaina, which he did last year also due to injuries. He did tally 2.5 sacks in 2012, but he will need to step up more in the upcoming season with the increased playing time.
Shea McClellin, last year’s first round draft pick, will be the most used off the bench at the defensive end position. He will play a bigger role this year in his second season. Along with McClellin, Ellis and Washington will figure into the rotation. Look for the front four to step up this year with the linebacker positions being revamped in the offseason, which we will talk about next week.
Julius Peppers Stats