The Chicago Bears fans should know what they going to get from DE Julius Peppers this year, but what about the DE’s outside of him? Here are four players the Bears are likely counting on to be that compliment DE to Peppers, and what their roles will be throughout the season.
Shea McClellin: The Bears spent a first round pick on McClellin to be that compliment speed rusher on the outside to Peppers. At 6-3 260 pounds, McClellin is arguably the second most athletic DE on the team after Peppers. He’s very quick off the line of scrimmage and is very explosive turning the edge in pursuit of the QB.
Likely role this season: Fans will have to wait at least another year until McClellin is trusted by the coaches to be a full-time DE. Until then, McClellin will more than likely assume the Aldon Smith role of the San Francisco 49ers; a role where he will come in on obviously passing situations and be asked to pin his ears back and get after the QB.
Israel Idonije: The Bears brought back Idonije on a one-year deal; an indication that they want Idonije to be that complete DE for a year until McClellin develops into that caliber player.
Likely role this season: Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will more than likely use Idonije on first and second downs; where teams are likely to run the football than pass. Even though the Bears acquired Amobi Okoye, and he figures to be inserted next to Defensive Tackle Henry Melton on passing downs, don’t be surprise if Idonije cuts into Okoye snaps in their Nickel rush package.
Idonije proved to be very effective in the preseason when slid inside; showcasing better athleticism and power compared to rushing from the outside.
Corey Wootton: The Bears kept Wootton around, and he figures to be the Bears fourth DE starting off the season.
Likely role this season: Wootton more than likely will be spending his year trying to keep his spot on the depth chart. If an injury occurs to Idonije, Wootton gives the Bears a DE that capable of replacing Idonije as that complete DE to compliment situational pass rusher McClellin.
Cheta Ozougwu: Ozougwu performed great in preseason and earned a roster spot. Like McClellin, Ozougwu is not stout against the run, but he has value as a pure pass rusher. He’s very quick off the edge and uses his hands well to keep opposing Offensive Tackles from getting into his body.
Likely role this season: Ozougwu has a good chance to work his way pass Wootton on the depth-chart and even challenge for some live snaps if McClellin struggles. Until that happens, he will be looked at as a developmental project on the Bears DE depth-chart.