22 Starters in 22 Days: Alex Brown

Despite being named a first alternate to the Pro Bowl, Alex Brown needs to improve his numbers in order to take the next step. It's time for the right end to consistently get to the quarterback.

Brown has never had more than 6.0 sacks in a season, which is a total even linebackers can reach over the course of a year. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher had 6.0 sacks in the first five games of 2005.

In four seasons, Brown has been a durable performer. He's started all 16 games the past three seasons and 57 of the last 58 contests overall. Still, the amount of snaps on the field has produced just 20 career sacks.

Adewale Ogunleye, who had 10.0 sacks last season, became the first defensive end to reach double digits in the category since Richard Dent achieved the feat in 1993 with 12.5.

Part of the reason Brown fell to the Bears in the fourth round of the 2002 draft was a perception he wasn't a two-way defender. At six-foot-3, 260-pounds Brown has worked hard to become a solid run stopper. By averaging 75 stops per campaign, he's finished first or second on the defensive line in tackles over the past three seasons.

However, the Bears signed Brown to a five-year $15 million deal to put pressure on the quarterback.

There are moments where Brown looks like a dominant player and times where he disappears. Although he had a career high 4.0 sacks against the New York Giants, the output accounted for two-thirds of his production for the entire 2004 season.

Last year, Brown had back-to-back two sack games against the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but had just 2.0 sacks in the 14 other games. He didn't register a sack until the seventh game of the season and had just one through nine games. Down the stretch, he had one sack over the final six games of the season, including the playoff loss to Carolina.

Brown will turn 27 in June and there is still time for his game to improve. The defensive line has a lot of talent, which limits the amount of double teams he will face in a game.

Another benefit Brown will have this year is a deeper rotation at end. The Bears believe Mark Anderson was a steal in the fifth round. As a rookie, Anderson could spell Brown, helping him stay fresh throughout the course of a game and the grind of a season.

Entering his fifth year in the league, Brown has to establish himself as an elite pass rusher or risk being labeled a career tease. A player who always seemed to be on the brink of greatness, but for whatever reason never fulfilled the potential.

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