No Brown Would Shake Up D-Line

The Chicago Bears seem hellbent on getting rid of Alex Brown, which will shake up the depth chart at defensive end. What does this mean for heretofore backups like Israel Idonije and Mark Anderson?

Julius Peppers

Peppers played on both the right and left side during his eight-year stint in Carolina, and he said he'd be comfortable playing either after signing with the Bears as a free agent. But with Alex Brown's inevitable departure making headlines in Chicago, this is a clear sign that Peppers will be lining up at the right defensive end position in 2010. Typically in a 4-3 defense, you want your best pass rusher at right end because that's the blind side for your standard right-handed quarterback.

Status Update: While coach Lovie Smith originally said the two-time All-Pro may get some snaps at right and left end, Peppers should be the full-time right end now.

Israel Idonije

Seemingly every year, Idonije is either being asked to gain 30 pounds so he can play defensive tackle or lose 30 pounds so he can play defensive end – the only person in the Windy City who has porked up and slimmed down more often is Oprah Winfrey. Now that Brown will no longer be a Bear, the coaching staff is moving forward with its plan to make Idonije a full-time starter for the first time in his career. He was very efficient and effective as a pass-rushing tackle off the bench in 2009, but it remains to be seen if he can get the job done as an every-down option at end.

Status Update: With Adewale Ogunleye officially an ex-Bear, Idonije looks like the leading candidate to start at left defensive end opposite Peppers.

Mark Anderson

Still hoping to recapture the magic he put on display as a rookie, when he went from unknown fifth-round draft pick to runner-up Defensive Rookie of the Year, Anderson received a second-round tender offer from the club as a restricted free agent and will earn $1.759 million this season. But after that 12.0-sack breakout during the Super Bowl campaign of 2006, Anderson has only 9.5 sacks in 46 games from 2007-09. Nevertheless, new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves his talent and feels he can be an ideal pass-rushing specialist.

DE Mark Anderson
AP Images: Jim Prisching

Status Update: He failed miserably as a starter in 2007, so unless the Bears make that same mistake again, expect Anderson to be a rotation guy and get nearly as many snaps as Idonije.

Jarron Gilbert

Considered a project defensive linemen, even though he was Chicago's top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Gilbert flip-flopped back and forth between tackle and end as a rookie but made no impact at either – he spent most of the season on the game-day inactive list. When he did see the field, he lined up at left defensive end because of his size and ability as a pass rusher. But with Idonije moving to end and Anderson entrenched as the No. 3 in obvious passing situations, Gilbert will probably slide back to tackle and focus on the three-technique position.

Status Update: With Tommie Harris only capable of being effective for 55-60 percent of the action, the Bears need someone to give him a breather without too much of a drop-off. Can Gilbert play this scheme's most pivotal position? Time will tell.

Henry Melton

Like Gilbert, Melton came to Chicago more athlete than football player and wasn't expected to contribute very much right out of the shoot. Suffering from an ankle injury during the preseason that wasn't considered to be overly serious, the Bears used it as an excuse to send Melton to injured reserve for the proverbial "redshirt" year since he wouldn't have made the final 53-man roster anyway. Rumors continue to swirl this offseason that the 6-3, 265-pounder could get a try as an undersized defensive tackle, which would be quite a change for a player recruited to the University of Texas to be a running back.

Status Update: Still on the outside looking from a playing-time perspective, what the Bears ultimately decide to do with Melton will no doubt hinge on Gilbert's progress.

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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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