Camp Chat: DT Israel Idonije

Not only is Israel Idonije one of the most important special teams contributors for the Chicago Bears, but the native Canadian will also play a critical role on defense as he makes the move inside to tackle. Idonije spent some time with Bear Report after Friday's Family Night workout at Soldier Field.

John Crist: It looks like you're making the permanent move inside to defensive tackle from defensive end. How was that decision ultimately made, and how's it been going so far?

Israel Idonije: Well, I've been playing it in spot duty for the last few years, and the coaches decided to make that move permanent inside. I bulked up a little bit, and it's been good.

JC: How do you go about preparing yourself to be a defensive tackle on every snap, as opposed to a swing man bouncing back and forth between the two positions based on what the team needs?

II: You've got to just understand the system better. You've got to understand what's going to happen to you [and] what kind of blocks you're going to get. You've got to be comfortable and kind of react to what's going instinctively, rather than waiting and you're timing's off. And so you've got to be comfortable and just understand what's going to happen and react and make split-second decisions is the biggest thing.

JC: What is it that makes Tommie Harris so good, and how much harder is it on the nose tackle when he's not out there at three technique?

DT Israel Idonije
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

II: He's just a factor. It's probably harder on everybody when he's not out there. Just his explosiveness and his understanding of his game is what sets him apart. And then his film study, breaking down the guys he's going to go against [and] how they block. He's a professional through and through, and that's what sets him apart.

JC: Who's the best football player to ever come out of Manitoba?

II: The best football player to ever come out of Manitoba? I don't know. That's a tough question.

JC: It's okay to say yourself.

II: To come out of Manitoba, there are a lot of great football players. A lot of great football players come out of Manitoba. I've just been fortunate to be the first NFL'er and kind of be the trailblazer for my province, so it's been nice.

JC: But nobody's as big as Wayne Gretzky, right?

II: Ah, man. Wayne Gretzky is the man. Wayne Gretzky is the man. He owns Canada.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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