The Bears continued the task of replacing injured defensive tackle Henry Melton with not one, not two, but maybe even three or four permutations on their defensive line. And it already is more than just promoting Nate Collins.
Defensive end Corey Wootton has been working at defensive tackle in nickel packages since the offseason. Now he might appear over guards more often.
“I've been preparing for that most of the offseason and training camp just in case,” Wootton said. “Now I might get some in ‘base’ (defense) in case we need it.”
What makes the Bears’ committee approach to both Melton’s replacement and their defensive-line philosophy in general is that it already has been in place.
They have used Wootton inside. Julius Peppers has the option of changing position to exploit a matchup. Meaning: The Bears have used defensive ends at tackle on multiple occasions and could again.
The course could lead the Bears to play Wootton more at tackle and activate another defensive end. Rookie sixth-rounder Cornelius Washington has been active on game days but hasn’t played. Rookie David Bass has not been active yet but is an edge rusher.
“We brought those guys in and out all the time,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. “Those guys have the experience playing, so we feel comfortable with whoever’s in the game at that time. It’s always next-man-up. We talk to those guys before ... We need every guy. And that’s from Day One. We told guys that, ‘at some point we’re going to need you. And whatever that role is going to be, be ready to step up and fulfill that role for us.’ This week is no different.”