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Anderson A Force ... For the Patriots

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Mark Anderson celebrates a sack of Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings in overtime at Soldier Field on Dec. 28, 2009, in Chicago. The Bears defeated the Vikings 36-30 in overtime.

    During Sunday's AFC Championship, Mark Anderson contributed three tackles and a sack. He finished the regular season with 10 sacks and has been a force on New England's defensive line. Yes, it's the same Mark Anderson who the Bears drafted in 2006, and then cut in 2010.

    A fifth-round draft pick, Anderson debuted with the Bears in 2006, notching 12 sacks in his rookie season. After that, his production dropped and he appeared to be a one-season wonder. In a surprising move last season, the Bears cut Anderson. The dismissal of Anderson was shocking at the time, because the Bears had cut Alex Brown to make room for Anderson.

    The Houston Texans quickly picked up Anderson. In 11 games in Houston, he had four sacks. Anderson signed with the Patriots this season and added a whole new weapon to their pass rush. He kept Baltimore's Joe Flacco on the run in Sunday's win that punched a Super Bowl ticket for New England.

    Watching Anderson fly around the field, I had to wonder what made the Bears give up on Anderson so quickly. His dismissal led to the depth problems the Bears had this season on the defensive line. Though Israel Idonije has been an effective bookend with Julius Peppers, Anderson had more sacks than any other Bears defensive lineman besides Peppers. Was Anderson the problem, or was it the Bears lack of willingness to develop him into the pass rusher he is now?