Sizing Up the Defense for the Chicago Bears in the NFL Offseason

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IMay 29, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 25:  Ryan Grant #25 of the Green Bay Packers is pursued by  Brian Urlacher #54 and  Major Wright #27 of the Chicago Bears on December 25, 2011 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

As the offseason workouts move ahead, we begin to see what we might be able to expect out of each player on the Bears' roster.  Let's turn our attention to the defense to see what's been happening on that unit.

The Bears defense will look different this year because they let some guys walk (like Anthony Adams and Amobi Okoye) while bringing in some new talent (like Shea McClellin and Brandon Hardin).

The defensive line is a big question mark heading into this season because the Bears have let go of some of their interior talent and haven’t brought in much in terms of new talent.  They did bring in McClellin at the defensive end spot, and if everything works out, it will be McClellin and Julius Peppers manning the defensive end spots. 

But who will be playing the defensive tackle position for them this year?  Is there anyone that can step up out of that group and shine?

There have been some question about the health of Brian Urlacher, who has been sitting out the drills.  Urlacher was hurt in the Bears' last game of the season and may still be recovering from that injury, but it’s almost assured that he will be back and ready to go. 

Lance Briggs will be back as well, and it looks like Nick Roach will be the other starter. The depth will remain pretty much the same as last year with very little available if a starter goes down.

The secondary, in particular the safety position, may see some change depending on what happens in training camp.  The Bears seem high on Hardin, and he could compete with Major Wright for the safety spot opposite Chris Conte, who looks like he will be a starter.  This would be a pretty significant change for the Bears on defense, but Hardin has a long way to go to be the starter. 

Still, if he can stay healthy and outperform Wright this season, he could be the starter when training camp is over, giving the Bears a different look at the safety position.

The Bears brought in some help at the cornerback position this offseason with some veteran free agent signings. The question is whether these new acquisitions will be able to crack the starting lineup.  It’s doubtful and appears as if Pro Bowler Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings will be the starters at the cornerback position again.  While Tillman is solid, Jennings leaves something to be desired.  Any competition at that position will come on his side, but it will be interesting to see if anyone beats him out.

So, the Bears' defense is going to have a few new looks next season with hopes that it will be able to play well in 2012.  There are concerns at almost every position on the team, but those concerns generally come when there are a lot of unknowns.  For instance, who is going to replace Adams?  Will Urlacher come back 100 percent healthy?  Is there a better option at cornerback than Jennings? 

These are all questions we ponder as we try to figure out what’s going to happen in 2012.