Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije is a professional in every sense of the word. Through his words, actions and play on the football field, Idonije has always showed the utmost class as a member of the navy and orange.
Which is why we haven't heard a peep out of him regarding his recent demotion, having been replaced in the starting lineup by Corey Wootton. Idonije has been the club's starting end for the past two and a half seasons but at 32 years of age, he was passed over two weeks ago by a younger and healthier player in Wootton.
Despite that, the nine-year veteran has not changed his approach and preparation for each game.
DE Israel Idonije
"My approach to the game week in and week out is the same," Idonije said after yesterday's 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. "I go in and give all my effort, try to make the plays I can make."
Despite playing in a backup role, Idonije has still had an impact on the field. In Sunday's contest, he was able to pick up half a sack, giving him 5.0 on the season, which matches his sack total from all of last season and is second most on the team.
"My approach is the same. I go in, I work and I let the chips fall as they may."
Despite losing his starter status, Idonije has had plenty of opportunities to make plays the past two weeks, as Chicago uses a heavy rotation along the defensive line. In fact, Idonije was actually on the field for six more snaps than Wootton in Sunday's contest.
"That's the fortunate thing," said Idonije. "I do still see a lot of snaps coming in nickel rushing, passing situations."
In Chicago, no position is set in stone, which means Idonije still has a shot to regain the starting job. Pro Football Focus gave Idonije the highest game grade against the Vikings of any Bears defensive player, and by a wide margin – Idonije's 5.2 overall grade was more than double the second highest graded defensive player (Charles Tillman's 1.9).
Performances like that could propel Idonije back into his familiar starter's role on the edge of the defensive line.
"Do I want to start? Absolutely. Unfortunately, that's not my decision," he said. "At the end of the day I've just got to make plays. That's what it all comes down to. They want more production so it falls on me. I've got to produce more."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.