Toeaina Happy With Swing Tackle Role.......................................
Bears’ Matt Toeaina tackles swing role with relish
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com August 11, 2011 10:46PM
http://www.suntimes.com/csp/cms/site...YPE=image/jpegDefensive tackle Matt Toeaina (75) might not be well-known to fans, but the coaches know he can play. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images
Updated: August 12, 2011 2:18AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Even newcomers on the Bears’ defensive line have more name-recognition than Matt Toeaina.
But some of those bigger names probably wish they had Toeaina’s intangibles — the will-to-twin, the experience, the versatility — that makes the fourth-year pro from Oregon a quietly effective and often underappreciated contributor to the Bears’ defense.
With Anthony Adams at nose tackle and Henry Melton at the under-tackle, Toeaina, who started 10 games last season, is the swing tackle who can play either position and creates an effective three-man rotation.
‘‘Last year was definitely a little breakout season, where people started to know my name, I guess,’’ said the 6-2, 308-pound Toeaina. ‘‘This year I’ve got to take that next step — being more consistent, making more play and just being a better player.’’
Buoyed by his success and opportunity last season, Toeaina worked on his overall athleticism in the offseason to continue the upward arc of his NFL career — even in relative anonymity.
‘‘He flies under your radar, but not ours,’’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. ‘‘He’s really a good football player. He’s improved from last year. He’s improved as a pass rusher. He’s a load in the run game. He’s smart. He can play both positions. And, believe me, they’re all breathing on each other’s necks. It’s what you like.’’
Fighting for his job is nothing new for Toeaina.
‘‘I always feel like I have something to prove,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t mind whether people know my name or not. The coaches know. My teammates know that when I play that I respect the game. I treat the game the way it’s supposed to be treated. It’s important to me and my family that I play like that.’’