2013 Chicago Bears season preview: OL, DL

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Say this for the Chicago Bears linemen- they will break an unofficial NFL record for players with dinosaur nicknames. They have two. DE Corey Wootton is the Coreysaurus and Tight End Martellus Bennett is the Martysaurus Rex. So they got that going for them; which is nice. But that depends on what you classify TEs: lineman or receivers. To space and balance things out, I’m putting the TEs in with the WRs

Since Jay Cutler came to the Chicago Bears from Denver in 2009, only one team in the NFL has let their signal caller get sacked more- the formerly of Chicago, and now Arizona Cardinals. So we the OL is terrible; we get it. Although, they made huge upgrades this offseason. As for the DL, it’s the monster Julius Peppers and…….????? A solid supporting cast yes. However, they are not Hall of Famers.

On to the first installment of our four part Chicago Bears season series preview.

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Chicago Bears Offensive Line

The Washington Redskins HOGS of the 80s and 90s….they are not! J’Marcus Webb completely sucks to high heaven, so I won’t talk about him much. What the hell is “West Texas A&M” anyway? Well, let’s be glad he doesn’t start anymore. And keep faith everyone stays healthy so he doesn’t have to. Did the Chicago Bears overpay for Jermon Bushrod? Yes, they did. Quite a bit actually. But it’s worth it. You need to spend big money on big boys to protect the blind side of the signal caller. Plus Bushrod can block “big on big” or one on one with anybody.

Signing Matt Slauson was a huge upgrade too. Now we have a really strong left side. And you can focus a ton of running plays to the left side now. Roberto Garza has something left; one would think anyway. He’s had his solid moments. How he handles the transition to Center could be interesting. Rookie Kyle Long comes with a little baggage and maybe some off the field issues at right guard, but he could be a pleasant surprise. Hey anything is better than the now sent out of town Bear Jew Gabe Carimi; who was a HUGE bust as a first round pick. Okay, we’ve been talking about the offensive line a lot here. As it’s the most unglamorous position, I’ll just stop now. Before I lose any more readers.

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Chicago Bears Defensive Line

Corey Wootton had 7 sacks last year and played in all 16 games. He had just one sack his first two NFL seasons. There’s hope that he’ll have a scary carnivorous dinosaur like season as the starting left end opposite Julius Peppers. Wootton will have to fight off first round pick Shea McClellin to keep the starting gig, and he could be perhaps this season’s most intriguing and interesting Chicago Bears player.

Corey Wootton didn’t do much statistically in ’11 or ’10, but he did come out of nowhere to become the answer to a major NFL trivia question.

Near the end of the 2010 season at the Minnesota Vikings, Corey Wootton slammed Brett Favre to the turf, in that infamous outdoor game on the rock hard frozen turf. He ended the 41-year-old QB’s night and career. Favre left the game with a concussion, and it was the final play of his legendary and storied NFL novel. So Wootton did something that even Jenn Sterger couldn’t do- make Brett Favre really go away.

Wootton only had one sack his first two years with the Chicago Bears; but it was a HUGE ONE.

When he arrived in Bourbonnais for his rookie season with the Bears in ’10, Corey himself admitted his knee wasn’t 100%.

However, that knee damage was nowhere near as serious as the ACL tear he suffered in college. Corey Wootton was considered a late first/early second NFL Draft prospect up until he blew out his knee in the 2008 Alamo Bowl vs Mizzou. The injury was so serious that he wasn’t really even close to being himself until mid to late season 2009, and the drop-off in his playing time and numbers severely deflated his draft stock. Corey Wootton’s play regressed considerably and NFL scouts noticed.

“Before the Alamo I would have recommended that he leave early, even before the NFL evaluation,” Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald said at NU Media Day.

“Obviously an injury like that takes a long time to heal, especially for a man his size, but he’s as talented as he is big,” Fitz continued. So the Bears got a huge steal with him as a 4th round pick.

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Starting Tackle Henry Melton has the Chicago Bears franchise tag designation. He left Friday’s preseason game with a concussion. The Pro Bowl 3-Technique is still not practicing. Nate Collins has subbed for him. NFL rules stipulate that Henry Melton cannot speak to media while he recovers from a concussion. He has yet to be cleared.

The other starting tackle in the base 4-3 is Stephen Paea, who’s still more known for being a measurables monster, a combine hero than for anything he’s done on the field…yet. He has enormous potential. Especially since he broke the bench press record for reps at the 2011 combine; when he bench pressed a Sherman tank 278 times or whatever it was. He’s from Auckland, so like the National Anthem says, “God Defend New Zealand.”

Overall the D Line is one of the better units in the league, and well above average. Solid at both End and Tackle. And since the Chicago Bears OL is as bad as it is, I think we know who dominates in practice here every day.

For Chicago Bears WR/DB/TE

For Chicago Bears RB/LB

For Chicago Bears QB/ST/overview/predictions

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, a Fox Sports affiliate. He is also an analyst for 95.7 The Fan, and writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows his Twitter account (@PaulMBanks)

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