BOURBONNAIS -– When defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, the seventh overall pick of the 2008 draft announced his retirement, the Bears moved quickly to restore the depth on the defensive line by signing 2007 No. 8 pick Jamaal Anderson.
With the season-ending Achilles injury to veteran Turk McBride on Monday, that defensive line depth took another hit. In the process it moved Anderson, former Buffalo Bill and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Kyle Moore and rookie sixth-rounder Cornelius Washington into right-now competition for a potential roster spot, under conditions none particularly like, but it is the NFL.
Cheta Ozougwu is considered a factor in the mix after leading the Bears in sacks (three) last preseason, making the team and appearing in two late-season games. But Ozougwu was knocked out of practice with a hamstring strain on Monday. His condition was listed as day to day.
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Adding to the pressure on the line is the loss of swingman Israel Idonije to the Detroit Lions. That cost the Bears a 6-foot-6, 270-pound force who could rush the passer from end and tackle. That also is what the Bears hope Anderson can emerge as.
“That was the first person that they mentioned, Izzy Idonije, that I would that kind of player in their minds, wanting to be an end as well as a tackle,” Anderson said.
Anderson, currently playing at 275 pounds, is getting possibly a last NFL chance. Drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, he had a lackluster four-year stint there, the 2-14 2011 season with Indianapolis and last year just two games with Cincinnati before a season-ending knee injury of his own.
“It just feels great to be back on the field. It feels like it’s been a long time because of the injury but I’m confident in my knee,” Anderson said. “I’ve been given the green light and this organization was confident enough to bring me here.
“Opportunities come sometimes when you don’t expect it.”
Washington did not expect his opportunity to come when it did, either. Projected by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper as a potential second-round draft choice coming out of Georgia last year, he fell to the sixth round.
“But it’s a blessing to be here anyway because there are a whole lot of people throughout the world that don’t ever get the chance to play pro ball,” said Washington, working primarily at left end with the third unit, then moving up with the 2’s after McBride’s injury. “They don’t get drafted. It’s a blessing that I’m even here.”
And he admitted that he stole a look in the mirror the first time he put on a Chicago Bears helmet.
“I did look, I did,” he said, laughing. “When I first got here they gave me the helmet, and when I first came down into the locker room, I put it on and it’s an amazing feeling being part of this organization and all the history.
“You’ve got to put your strides in everywhere you go, put in your dues.”