Positional analysis

Potentially the deepest position on the Bears is defensive tackle. They have three solid starters and three young players pushing for playing time.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Starters -- LT Ted Washington, RT Keith Traylor. Backups -- Bryan Robinson, Alfonso Boone, DT Ian Scott, DT Tron LaFavor.

With Robinson moving inside to his more natural position after starting for four straight years at left end, the Bears have a crowded house at defensive tackle. He joins Ted Washington and Keith Traylor, all of whom are long-time starters in the NFL.

There are enough star-caliber players to keep fresh, difference-making players on the field at all times.

Washington and Traylor will remain on the field in running downs with Robinson rotating in when either need a breather or when a pass is expected.

The team is already taking precautions to make sure Washington and Traylor remain as healthy as possible during the grueling 16-game regular season.

"They probably will not practice twice a day as we get into this thing for obvious reasons," said head coach Dick Jauron. "They have a lot of experience and we also want to make sure they are ready when we get to game time. We don't want to wear them down. They do need to practice, so generally in our padded practices they will be out there. But, as a rule they won't practice all of the two a days."

Traylor and Robinson are alternating with the No. 1s at defensive right tackle, but Traylor has been practicing with the first unit.

"I would love to go out there and start," Robinson said. "Who wouldn't? But we have three guys that if you put the three guys out there, no matter who you put out there you won't (miss) a beat, and that's what we need. That's what teams are starting to do. They have three dominant tackles and hopefully we all are going to be here this year."

The plan is for all three to rotate, since Traylor played Washington's spot last season after he was injured in the second game and spent the rest of the season on I.R.

"Honestly it doesn't matter who starts," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "I plan on rotating them. The biggest question will be production. Who's producing? If somebody's playing with a hot hand and giving you a lot of production, you're not going to pull him out to put a guy in just to keep the rotation going."

With all three playing at their previous levels, the Bears would have one of the strongest interiors in the NFL. Blache hopes the competition elevates everyone's game.

"Competition's great," Blache said. "The guys are going to have to produce or they're going to sit and watch, and all these guys are veterans. They like playing; they like contributing. Nobody wants to sit and watch the other guy play and get the recognition and get the perks or whatever. So I expect it to be a real good situation defensively for us to have those guys competing inside for playing time."

Boone needs to play much better than he did last season or he will be replaced on the roster by rookies Scott and/or LaFavor.

"Ideally we'd like to rotate four inside, but it's hard to do with our numbers cause it's hard to carry that many guys," Jauron said.

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