Not tough enough in ’13, Bears DL entering 'violent shed'

Not tough enough in ’13, Bears DL entering 'violent shed'
June 18, 2014, 3:00 pm
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As one former Bears head coach intoned, the past is for cowards and losers. Marc Trestman is not living in or dwelling on the past, but he is blunt about it and not seeing a repeat of one disturbing part of it:

“We weren’t the tough team we wanted to be [in 2013] for a lot of different reasons,” Trestman said on Wednesday. “We want to accentuate it this year.”

If this is an indication of what may be coming with the start of training camp in five weeks, it already is being accentuated, and this without pads or contact allowed.

[MORE: Decision day looming for Bears quarterback group]

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker spoke of the usual focus points for the Bears' defensive line — hand use, pad level, setting a vertical edge in the run game “and then being able to play your gap and half of another gap” — but then he added a new venue for the crucible that will be the competition along the defensive line:

“That’s a violent-shed situation,” Tucker said, adding quickly, “I like the group so far. It’s a lot of competition. There’s a lot of guys in there that we think can make this team and we have to make sure we get them reps in training camp so we know who are the right guys for us.”

[RELATED: 'Fixing' Jay Cutler helped fix Bears’ offensive line in 2013]

Life in the “violent shed” will indeed be intense. The starting front four is virtually set, with ends Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston and tackles Stephen Paea and Jeremiah Ratliff.

But Paea is facing a challenge from nose tackle Ego Ferguson, like Paea a second-round pick, and there is the matter of Will Sutton, the Bears’ third-round pick and a projected three-technique behind Ratliff.

But supposing that Nate Collins is conceding anything at either tackle spot would be seriously in error. That makes five defensive tackles and nothing assures that all five make the opening-day roster.

At end it is no less violent: Allen, Houston and Willie Young at locks, with returning vet Israel Idonije always a consideration because of versatility, including special teams.