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Position Battles: DT & OLB

In continuing the segment of position battles to watch during Bears training camp, I take a look into the heated battled for the starting DT and OLB positions:

Defensive Tackle – Tommie Harris is the number one on this rotation. However the tandem is a question mark. The past few years it was Dusty Dvoracek's job to tag team with Harris, however injuries left him to be a mystery. Dvoracek is a relentless force against the run and was a big reason why the Bears defense finished fifth against the run. But the 303 pound gap-eater can't stay healthy. Anthony Adams is an even bigger gap-eater at 310 pounds, and filled in nicely when Dvoracek eventually went down due to injury. Adams showed just as much talent stopping the run and is making a case to be the starter of the rotation. There is also sophomore DT, Marcus Harrison, who is a very intriguing case because of his 312 pound frame and his ability to rush the QB (two sacks last year in rotational duty). Of course there is also Bears top pick Jarron Gilbert who has a case as well. Either way, all these names figure to see the field a good amount of time no matter who starts, because the Bears strive on a rotation to have fresh bodies who can effectively pressure the QB.

Outside Linebacker – Lance Briggs is manning the other side, that is a given. But who is going to end up on the other side and round out this blockbuster LB corp that features Briggs and Brian Urlacher? This will probably be the most heated and competitive position battle in camp. Hunter Hillenmeyer was the starter last year but lost his job to Nick Roach in the middle of the season. Hillenmeyer is a sure tackler but lacks speed coveted in the Cover-2 scheme which makes him a poor rusher and a liability in coverage. Roach is Hillenmeyer's opposite; a speed demon LB with tackling skills to be desired. However, despite his speed, Roach isn't an accomplished rusher but he is solid in coverage. Also looking to have the job is Jamar Williams and free agent acquisition, Pisa Tinoisamoa. Williams has had a stellar off-season thus far and from what the Bears coaches are expressing, the job is his to loose. Williams is excellent in coverage, has the speed to rush, and is talented enough at tackling that he was Urlacher's back-up in the middle for his career. Yet, Lovie Smith didn't bring in his boy from St. Louis for nothing. Tinoisamoa is an ideal Cover-2 LB who is fast and athletic. He was a tackling machine for a bad Rams defense his entire career and has remarkable coverage skills (enough to warrant him a job at FS where he spent time at). Plus, his knowledge of Smith's cover-2 scheme and his experience with LB's coach Bob Babich (also from St. Louis) might make Tinoisamoa the coach's favorite.

- Joshua D. Aldis (08/06/09)

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