The swirl of injuries hitting the defensive line in less than six game-weeks – tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins to IR, Stephen Paea inactive with a toe injury – has sent coaches scrambling for solutions and bodies. Not many of the emergency additions – end David Bass, tackles Landon Cohen and Zach Minter -- have provided adequate answers.
More concerning is that the two No. 1 draft choices on the Bears’ defensive line – ends Shea McClellin (2012) and Julius Peppers (2002, Carolina) – have neither taken pressure off other areas of the line or raised their games at a time when the defense is struggling more than at any time in recent seasons.
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McClellin (nine tackles, one half-sack) and Peppers (eight tackles, one sack) have been virtually invisible on game days. Bass, an undrafted rookie free agent castoff from the Oakland Raiders, was credited with two tackles vs. the New York Giants. That equaled the combined total for McClellin and Peppers.
The latter failed to appear on the pressbox stats summary in both the New York and New Orleans games.
“I know that it’s not just one guy,” coach Marc Trestman said regarding Peppers’ struggles. “It’s a combination of rushes and people inside and moving people around and how stunts are put together.
“I just don’t think it’s about one guy here. It’s about us collectively continuing to find ways to get a pass rush going. We got close and Julius got close a couple times, too. We just didn’t get close enough. We got close enough to redirect Eli a couple times and push him out of the pocket. We just didn’t hit him.”
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McClellin at least had a tackle for loss vs. New York.
“I think it partly is week to week,” Trestman said. “Shea is a work in progress but certainly there's evidence that he can be that guy. We'll continue to try to do some things to move him around as well.”