Tommie Harris poses the most dangerous threat on the front line, but he will have to rebound from a sub-par season in 2009. Last year, Harris posted the lowest tackle and sack totals of his entire six-year career, finishing with 24 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Accompanying Harris up front is seven-year veteran Anthony Adams. Adams was the opposite of Harris, finishing the season with the second best statistical output of his career. Harris' counterpart brought his opponents to the turf 44 times and also added three fumble recoveries. After coming into camp overweight, Marcus Harrison also saw action at the defensive tackle position, ending up with 24 tackles in limited playing time.
The combined 13 years of service between Harris and Adams give the Bears an edge when it comes to experience. Both players have had very successful seasons at the professional level and can withstand the grind of an NFL campaign. Even with their lengthy resumes, Harris and Adams are both still young at 27 and 29 years old, respectively. If Harris can rebound from last season's slump, the duo could be in for a solid year. The addition of Julius Peppers will also alleviate some of the pressure on Harris, allowing him to disrupt the trenches with more consistency.
The defensive tackles have displayed an inability to provide solid play week in and week out. Harris, Adams and Harrison can all disappear at times. Last year, Harrison responded to his successful 2008 campaign by showing up in Bourbonnais out of shape and losing favor with the coaching staff. His sophomore slump contributed to a one-sack output in 2009. If the Bears' tackles are going to continue their progression and live up to the hype, there has to be a commitment to consistency.
DT Anthony Adams
Getty Images: Jed Jacobsohn
The upside of Harris is tremendous, and at the ripe age of 27, he still has time to return to his All-Pro form. That is if he can recover from the always-nagging knee injury. Harrison's ability to maintain his weight will determine greatly if he is the long-term option, once Adams ages out of the equation. The Bears' top pick in 2009, Jarron Gilbert, could also make his way into the rotation if Adams or Harrison falters. Fellow second-year pro Henry Melton, who was once a running back in college and got drafted to line up at defensive end, is learning to play inside for the first time.
The success of the defensive tackles in 2010 hinges on the resurgence of Harris. The three-time Pro Bowler was signed to a big-money deal two offseasons ago and has yet to live up to expectations since getting paid. Peppers will undoubtedly improve Harris' numbers, but he will need an immense amount of progression to justify the financial numbers. The depth of the line is substantial, but it is full of players who may still be a year or two away from contributing. Harrison is only in his third year, and both Gilbert and Melton have barely seen the field during his fledgling careers. In order for the Bears' tackles to reach their potential, the youth must have a breakthrough sooner rather than later.
The Bears rank ninth overall at the defensive tackle position. Directly ahead of the Bears are Darnell Dockett
and the Arizona Cardinals. Behind the Bears, the New York Jets come in at 10th. The Williams Wall from Minnesota ranks No. 1 overall. As for the rest of the NFC North, the Packers rank 15th and the Lions come in at 25th.
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