Question marks dot Bears secondary

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Editor’s Note: the final article previewing the Bears positional units ahead of training camp opening Wednesday, July 29.

The makeover in the Chicago Bears secondary is subtle yet drastic. Gone is ballhawking veteran and Bears fan favorite Charles “Peanut” Tillman.

After two straight injury-marred seasons, the Bears and Tillman decided to part ways. Tillman took his “Peanut punch” down to Carolina to reunite with former Bears defensive coordinator and current Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. While Tillman’s experience and playmaking skills will be missed, the Bears needed an infusion of young talent.

Last year’s first-rounder, Kyle Fuller, showed promise but staggered down the stretch trying to play through injuries and inconsistency. Fuller has a high-ceiling and should flourish under new defensive backs coach Ed Donatell.

At the other corner, veterans Tim Jennings and free agent import Alan Ball will compete. Jennings looks to rebound from a subpar season in which he was routinely picked on and saw his interceptions disappear. An offseason DUI arrest didn’t help matters. Jennings may be at a place in his career where he would be better suited for a nickel role.

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Bears have quantity, do they have quality at LB?

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Editor’s note: continuing our look at the various position groups ahead of training camp. Today, the linebackers.

With a shift to a base 3-4 defense, the Chicago Bears enter the 2015 season with major questions at the Linebacker position.

There’s no shortage of candidates, considering that holdover defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young,  and David Bass will shift from their hand in the dirt to stand-up pass rushers. Whether they can transition effectively is another question.

The veteran Allen looks to bounce back from a subpar 2014 where injuries and illness robbed him of his quick first step. READ MORE

Bears new defensive scheme, new opportunities

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Editor’s Note: Continuing a series of Bears positional outlooks with an eye on the defensive line.

By Connor Curts, Associate Editor

With the long awaited and much needed firing of Mel Tucker as the Bears defensive coordinator, their defense will have a new look in 2015.

Vic Fangio, the new defensive coordinator, runs a 3-4 defense, something Chicago hasn’t had in a while. Not only will the line have one less man, but it won’t have former defensive end Jared Allen, who is switching to linebacker.

Undoubtedly, the top contributor and leading tackler among the defensive line will likely be Jeremiah Ratliff, and he’ll probably be lining up at Nose Tackle. Ratliff is 33 and coming into his 11th year, but showed last year when healthy that he’s definitely still go plenty of gas left in the tank. But if he’s plagued by injuries this season, don’t be surprised to see some uncertainty along the line.

Lining up on the right side of Ratliff could be Ego Ferguson, coming into his 2nd year in the league. Though he mostly saw time on the inside of the line last year, the state of the depth chart could easily result in him being one of the starting ends. Ferguson showed promising flashes of potential last season, and this offseason he committed to conditioning, in hopes of becoming more explosive.

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