LINK to the article Melton, Wootton starting to make impact
Brian Urlacher insists his left knee feels fine. Lance Briggs promises he will do a better job of
catching passes from the opposing quarterback that land right in his hands.
So much for the Chicago Bears’ marquee defenders. The unit will need strength in numbers to
overtake the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, and be successful throughout the rest of the season.
Toward that goal, defensive tackle Henry Melton and end Corey Wootton are doing their best to
become household names after promising starts this season.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has been able to rotate linemen Israel Idonije, Shea
McClellin, Julius Peppers and Wootton to get satisfactory results. Also, Matt Toeaina had two
tackles in the season-opener against the Colts and Stephen Paea has three tackles. Amobi Okoye
had a pair against Green Bay.
“Just the rotation is giving people a different look. One play it’s Izzy, one play it’s myself, one
play it’s Shea, one play it’s Pep,” Wootton said Thursday at Halas Hall. “It’s different looks all
across the board.”
Melton has 10 tackles and three sacks in the first two games. He had a similar auspicious start last season before trailing off production-wise.
“It’s mostly mental, especially playing that position. You get torn down physically and you have
to stay on track mentally to keep yourself in shape and keep making plays,” Melton said.
In his fourth season out of Texas, Melton recalled playing in college against current Rams
quarterback Sam Bradford, an Oklahoma alum.
“I got a personal foul on him in college. I am not going to do that this time, though,” Melton said
with a smile. “I think I had a little forearm to the face. It was a rivalry game.”
Wootton, in his third year out of Northwestern, has four tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in
“I have done a pretty good job so far, but I am always looking to improve on the little details and
just get more pressure,” Wootton said.
McClellin, the first-round draft pick from Boise State, has four tackles and 1.5 sacks, while the
veteran Peppers has five tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Still, Briggs laments not picking off a pass by the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers in the first half of last
Thursday night’s 23-10 loss at Lambeau Field.
“It was a layup pass. I think sometimes when the pass is coming at you and it’s right where you
want it to be and you think it’s too good to be true ... and that’s something I can’t let happen
anymore,” Briggs said. “I shamed myself.”
But the big picture looks encouraging for the Bears defense.
“We have a lot of positives to take from our first two weeks. And pass-rush is one of them,” Briggs
said. “I know you’ve seen Henry Melton showing up a lot. Pep, Izzy ... all of those guys. I think
they are going to be key to our success.”