Chicago Bears Position Overview: Defensive Line

As the Chicago Bears prepare to meet for their training camp in Bourbonnais, Grizzly Detail is taking the opportunity to examine what the team’s roster looks like as practices get underway.

We’ll keep things going today with a look at the team’s defensive line, which is not only dealing with the switch to a 3-4 defense under Vic Fangio, but also with a slew of moving parts as training camp begins.

The Starters:

When the Bears hired Fangio as their new defensive coordinator, there were two things that immediately came to mind. The first was that the team would switch to a 3-4 defense as their primary front for the first time in the organization’s history, and the second was that they really didn’t have the personnel to make the switch work at the time.

Over the course of the offseason, they’ve made several moves to help shore up the group, including drafting Eddie Goldman as their potential nose tackle of the future and signing free agent Pernell McPhee to fit in at either defensive end or (more likely) outside linebacker.

None of those players are in a position to start at the moment, but that could easily change during camp. Jeremiah Ratliff is all but assured of a starting spot, and Jarvis Jenkins is hellbent on proving that he should nab one of the defensive end spots on the line. Guys like Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton will also get looks in deciding the final starter, and a player like Cornelius Washington could as well.

The Back-Ups:

Goldman is definitely a player to watch out for as the Bears make the switch to a 3-4 front, but he should also see time when they switch to a 4-3 during games. Sutton also fits into that category, and players like Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston should also see some time at defensive end in those situations.

Another player to watch will be Willie Young, but fans shouldn’t expect to see him on the field for quite some time as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury that he suffered late in the 2014 season.

What to Watch For:

If we had to pick players to watch on the line, there are a couple that stand out. Will Goldman supplant Ratliff as the nose tackle during the season? Can Ferguson continue his development as the Bears look to maximize on his raw talent? Will Sutton be able to live up to his promise and deliver results?

All of these questions bear watching as training camp gets going and as the season moves along, but one thing is for certain: the composition of the defensive line is a remarkably fluid situation, and it’ll be interesting to see how everything shakes out as the regular season draws closer.

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