Breaking Down the Bears: Defensive Line

This is an area the Bears have worked hard to improve over the past two seasons. While the talent is there at this point to succeed, the group needs to boost their production.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LE Adewale Ogunleye, LT Tommie Harris, RT Ian Scott, RE Alex Brown. Backups -- DE Michael Haynes, DT Alfonso Boone, DT Tank Johnson, DE Israel Idonije.

Ogunleye didn't come close to living up to his $33 million contract, but he played with a torn tendon in his lower leg much of the season and was not at full strength. He will be expected to at least double his 2003 sack total of five for next season.

Brown had four sacks against the Giants in early November and shortly thereafter signed a $15 million, five-year contract extension. He finished with six sacks all season, but needs to prove that he can be a more consistent threat.

Harris was outstanding for a rookie, frequently drawing double-team blocks and justifying his first-round status. He should only get better with time and has his sights set on reaching the Pro Bowl next season.

Scott was considered too slow to play in the new defense and was expected to be cut in camp, but he lost weight and wound up starting 13 games. He improved more than any player on the roster from the beginning of the year to the end and has earned a starting role heading into next season.

Haynes showed improvement over his rookie season of 2003, but he still isn't playing like a first-round pick. He can play either left or right end, which makes him valuable in the rotation. But he might be better suited to try to add weight and go inside.

Johnson started off well but faded late although he was part of the DT rotation. Like most rookie defensive tackles, it's hard to make a major impact as a rookie. He could battle for more playing time in his second season.

Boone is the veteran of the group. After he lost his starting job following an injury he became a part of the rotation and arguably the top run defender on the interior.

Idonije showed some versatility and pass-rush potential. The fact that he can play end or tackle makes him valuable on game day.

The entire unit is signed and should return intact in 2005. The Bears have spent first round picks on the four in each of the past two years, but that won't be the case heading into April's draft.

The group is young and deep, which means the only thing they need is time together.

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