Is Wootton the real deal?
Is Wootton the real deal?
Favre sack showed flash of powerful potential
By Brad Biggs, Tribune Reporter
7:09 p.m. CST, December 23, 2010
One of the factors that's made the Bears' defense successful this season has been Israel Idonije's ability to win the one-on-one battles, the opportunities everyone would knew would come on the opposite side of Julius Peppers.
Idonije has blossomed into a new player at 30 and has been a consistent force where the team wasn't sure if it could find one. The book ends are tied for the team lead with eight sacks. The question now is can they find someone to fill the swing role and play both sides on occasion to give the starters a break?
Mark Anderson was briefly in that role before being released after Week 4. Henry Melton has taken some turns outside although he seems to be excelling inside where he is playing more and had a pass deflection that turned into a Peppers' interception last Monday at Minnesota. Marcus Harrison has even been given some time at end, and perhaps the 312-pounder is a run-stuffing option vs. the Jets Sunday, but he's not an ideal fit there.
Now, the Bears have to be wondering whether or not Corey Wootton's sack of Brett Favre is a coming out party or a possible trivia question answer if the Vikings quarterback never plays again?
Wootton fired off the right side and got under Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie, driving him back before disengaging and wrapping up Favre and slamming him to the turf for a sack that led to a concussion when Favre's helmet hit the turf. It was a move that displayed just how explosive and powerful he can play. There are two regular-season games left to determine if it was an occasional flash or if Wootton is ready to grab that third end job the Bears have been waiting for someone to claim and force them to play him more.
"I am trying to prove them I belong out there," Wootton said. "Through practice and the games, that is my goal."
Wootton was used for 23 snaps vs. the Vikings after getting eight the week before against the Patriots when he broke a six-game stretch of being inactive by getting some time.
"We don't really look at snaps," defensive line coach Eric Washington said. "We want them to have a high factor grade — to be a factor in either determining the outcome of a play or terminating a play. His snaps were about right. He just needs to be a factor when he's in there."
Washington stopped short of calling Wootton the third end, saying he's rotating in with the other young players. A fourth-round pick from Northwestern, the Bears hoped he would make an impact before the season ended and he's come along well.
"We've still got to get his pads down," Washington said. "He's still playing a little high and just certain mechanical things we've got to clean up, but he's working at it. He's working extremely hard. For a guy who didn't dress a lot early, he just stayed with it. He showed up early, he stayed late, he kept his head in it and he watched and observed."
The benefit for Wootton is at 6-6 he's got good players to learn from in Peppers, 6-7, and Idonije, 6-6. Peppers plays with terrific leverage and Idonije has made great improvements in the course of his career. They're long and lean like Wootton and he can see what they have to do to excel.
He's starting to draw the attention of the veterans too. Brian Urlacher called out his name loudly as he walked past him in the hallway.
"You don't hear a lot from (rookies) and it's good to see them doing things," Lance Briggs said. "That's the way rookies are supposed to be, not heard but seen. It's good to see Corey getting sacks."