If Julius Peppers is the rock star/lead singer of the Chicago Bears defensive ends, that means that collectively Turk McBride, Shea McClellin, Israel Idonije and Corey Wootton are the nameless band members/backup singers in this analogy. That’s not to say the other defensive ends not named Peppers were slouches and unproductive, however.
The 109th pick by the Bears in 2010, Wootton announced himself to the NFL his rookie season by being the man to finally ‘retire’ the Highlander of the league, Brett Favre. Over the course of the 2012 season, Wootton took advantage of the extra attention paid to Peppers to the tune of 26 total tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles.
Now, entering into his fourth year in the league, Wootton is developing into a solid pass rusher. So much so, that the Bears organization decided to let former starting defensive end Idonije go. With the subtraction of Idonije, Wootton as well as McClellin look to seize the starting rush end position opposite Peppers. With three years experience in the league, the 6’6″, 270 lb., Wotton appears to have the inside position entering training camp to claim that spot.
In the short term, Wootton and McClellin should continue to compete and push one another not only through training camp but throughout the season as well. In the long term, the defensive end position will continue to be one of the strengths on the roster for the Bears well after the now 33-year-old, 12 year veteran Peppers is no longer with the team.