Chicago Bears Position Focus: Julius Peppers Helps Bear Defensive Tackles

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst ISeptember 14, 2010

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommie Harris #91 and Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears await the start of play against the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears have always prided themselves on defense and have had some of the more memorable names on defense in NFL history.  Most of the names come from the linebacker position (Butkus, Singletary, Urlacher) but a few toiled on the defensive line. Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, and Steve McMichael are three names Bear fans remember.

This year’s defensive tackle position is manned by the same group the Bears had last season. The presence of Julius Peppers at defensive end will take some of the pressure off the tackles this year.  Health has also been a problem with this group. Hopefully they will be able to remain healthy the entire 2010 season.

The following is a look at the players on their roster at defensive tackle position and where they stand.  

Anthony Adams-Some say it’s about time.  After being one of the better lineman  since coming arriving as a free agent, Adams has had a mysterious career in Chicago.  There had been times when he would was declared inactive on game day.  Many wondered what the Bears were doing.

After a great training camp and consistent preseason, the Bears made Adams a starter on the defensive line. Now we can watch as Adams plays consistent football.

Tommie Harris-Harris started out his career on a hot streak. He  was voted to several Pro Bowls.  Head coach Lovie Smith likes undersized defensive tackles with a lot of speed. Harris had exactly what Smith wanted when they drafted him.

Harris began to decline after the Bear’s Super Bowl season. He was injured a majority of the time and a regular visitor to Smith’s dog house.  He missed a couple of scheduled treatments for injuries in 2008 and 2009 and missed two games because of it.  In addition Harris was ejected against the Cardinals for throwing a punch.  He says he’s learned his lesson.

Harris has the opportunity to make up for lost time and become the player that he once was this season. With defensive end Peppers,Harris has an opportunity to have a “breakout” season.

Marcus Harrison-Harrison has had an up and down career since coming to Chicago.  He was a highly touted third rounder.  Many thought he should have been a first rounder. but some off-field issues caused him to drop in the draft. In his first game, he sacked Peyton Manning.  Many thought he was on track for greatness.

Then Harrison disappeared for the rest of the year.  To start the Bear’s next training camp, he came in overweight.  In this year’s training camp he struggled with conditioning and had to be held out because of the heat.

Harrison was not active for the Bears first game this year. He will have to earn his way back onto the active roster and back onto the field.  If he doesn’t do too much this season, he may not be around next year.

Matt Toeaina-Toeaina came to the Bears as an undrafted free agent. He spent most of his career in Chicago on the fence. He will finally  get a full shot at making an impact on the team in 2010.  From what we have seen of Toenail so far this preseason, he has delivered on that promise.

So what is the mission of the defensive tackles this season?  First and foremost, the have to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  This led to problems defending against the pass in the past. 

Keeping opposing running backs from gaining a lot of yards begins with line play. The Bear’s defense doesn’t want to relieve the nightmare last season against the Bengals.

This should be a playmaking group as long as they can stay healthy.  Look for a lot of production out of these guys as they help bring Chicago’s defense back to respectability.