Wootton injury casts potential cloud over defense

Wootton injury casts potential cloud over defense
August 1, 2013, 3:45 pm
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BOURBONNAIS – A hip injury sent defensive lineman Corey Wootton off the practice field Thursday morning and out for an MRI that the Bears hope will confirm coach Marc Trestman’s estimate that it is just a “ding.”

“Corey is day-to-day,” Trestman said. “We don’t think it’s serious.”

The Bears, already having lost end Turk McBride to a season-ending Achilles injury and tackle Sedrick Ellis to retirement, hope so. Veteran Jamaal Anderson, another potential swingman for end and tackle, missed his second day of practice with a sore knee.

Wootton, having one of the consensus best training camps of any Bear, has emerged as a key multi-role player in the wake of the departure of end/tackle swingman Israel Idonije for the Detroit Lions.

Wootton has been the clear starter over Shea McClellin with the No.1 defense and has regularly moved to tackle in nickel situations where his 6-foot-6-inch height is a crucial part of the interior pass rush.

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One concern, however, is Wootton’s durability with the increased playing time, particularly with it coming inside against guards and centers in more confined spaces than at his customary end spot.

The problem for the Bears is that they simply do not have anyone close to Wootton at this point for a very effective role.

The second half of last season was a turning point for Wootton as the former Northwestern defensive end broke into the starting lineup for the first time and had seven sacks, 12 quarterback pressures and another 18 “hurries,” according to ProFootballFocus.com.

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The expectations are significantly higher this year given his progress through the offseason and early camp. He is rarely off the field.

“I definitely expect myself to do well this year, that’s how I prepare myself, that’s how I’ve done it all offseason, so I’m just working every day to get better,” Wootton said. “Playing opposite a guy like Julius Peppers and Henry Melton definitely helps out a lot because they get the majority of the double-teams so it’s definitely a good thing.”