The run of injuries early in 2013 were the undoing of the defense and GM Phil Emery made a fortifying that position group a mission statement of its own. If there is one head-scratcher, however, it is that the key injuries of ’13 were chiefly at tackle (Nate Collins, Henry Melton) where the Bears kept just four this year, vs. keeping six defensive ends. But Lamarr Houston has played tackle, moves inside in the Bears’ “NASCAR” rush package, and he has played defensive tackle with Oakland, albeit at a few pounds heavier than the 275 he is playing at now.
Starters: Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Stephen Paea, Jeremiah Ratliff
Depth: David Bass, Ego Ferguson, Trevor Scott, Will Sutton, Cornelius Washington, Willie Young
The cuts: Nate Collins, Brandon Dunn, Austen Lane, Lee Pegues, Tracy Robertson
The thinking: Only three of the combined end-tackle group were Bears in 2013 as the organization committed to new directions in free agency and the draft. GM Phil Emery committed to winning now with veteran signings in addition to stocking the pipeline with rookie interior players in Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, who will have the benefit of mentors like Ratliff.
The Bears will go only as far as the defensive line takes them, now and in the future. And they also have gone with a balanced spectrum of youth and experience: Allen and Ratliff are 32, Scott is 29, Young is 28, while Ferguson and Sutton are 22.
Complete roster breakdown: