Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Jan. 21: The buzz for NIU DE Larry English

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Spent some time today profiling Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley, one of the hot assistants in the league right now, so we're running late with the mailbag once again. What else is new? Haley was the Bears' wide receivers coach from 2001-03 and under his watch Marty Booker became the first (and only) Bears receiver to reach the Pro Bowl since 1972. That story will be in Thursday's edition of the Sun-Times, and includes an interesting John Shoop nugget that may not be well known.

Moving forward, let's jump into Four Down Territory.

Q: What kind of buzz is there about Larry English, the defensive end from Northern Illinois?

Scott T., Aurora

A: There's more and more buzz every day about English, who prepped at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He's turned heads all week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and right now he's in the top five of a lot of lists at defensive end. English was the MAC MVP and defensive player of the year and produced 31 1/2 sacks during his career in DeKalb. The thing scouts are going to have to do is project him at the NFL level, something the Bears didn't do a very good job of with another MAC pass rusher in Dan Bazuin. English has good size at 6-3, 255 pounds and in the most recent mock draft by ESPN guru Mel Kiper Jr., he had English going in the first round.

Here is what ESPN.com's Todd McShay had to say about English today:

"Northern Illinois OLB/DE Larry English continues to make a case for himself as one of the premier pass-rushers of the senior crop. English turned another strong performance during one-on-ones, showcasing a variety of pass-rush moves. He displays the ability to bend when coming off the edge, which makes it extremely hard for tackles to get their hands on and control him. He has also lined up at defensive tackle at times, using his explosive first step to disrupt a play in the backfield on one snap and surprisingly driving Oregon C Max Unger back into the pocket on the next play. That's not all either. Texas DE Brian Orakpo skipped Senior Bowl week and English has seized the opportunity to step into the spotlight and making a name for himself."

Sounds like he's turning in a terrific week in Mobile. Watch for him during the game Saturday.

Q: Does anybody currently on the team get a contract extension this offseason?

Adam, Evansville, Ind.

A: The Jerry Angelo Reward My Own Program has been discontinued this offseason. It's not because the Bears are changing their philosophy. They're simply out of players to go to about getting extensions done. Offensive tackle John St. Clair is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and the door remains open for him to potentially return. Other than that, Angelo more or less wrote off Mike Brown already. He's said the club is going to wait to see more from quarterback Kyle Orton before making a move with him. Defensive tackle Israel Idonije is entering the final year of his contract and at this point I would expect him to likely enter the season without an extension. Strong-side linebacker Nick Roach is an exclusive rights free agent so he'll likely receive a tender. Doesn't look like there will be a lot of in-house movement.


Q: Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith always play up the self-evaluation phase of the offseason. I guess that is pretty self explanatory as far as it goes. What I was wondering is how they do it? For example, do the offensive coaches evaluate the defense, and vice versa? Does the scouting department play a role? Do the Bears bring in any kind of outside perspective such as retired coaches? What is the end result, a relative number, or something like ``we need another cornerback?'' Any info you had would be more than I have.

MSBearsFan, Mississippi

A: The self-evaluation process has already begun and it will gain momentum next week after the staff returns from the Senior Bowl. It's a pretty exhaustive process. The position coaches do thorough reports on their players and the scouting department is heavily involved with critiquing the roster. When everyone has assembled their reports, they get together in a big room and have what Angelo describes as very candid and frank discussions about everything from top to bottom. They don't bring in outside eyes to work on this, but they're not making snap judgments here. These aren't rah-rah sessions that are held and they help shape the club's direction moving forward toward free agency and then the draft.


Q: Could the Bears have interest in Baltimore safety Jim Leonhard, who will be a free agent?

Multiple readers

A: Leonard stood out at strong safety for the Ravens after taking over for Dawan Landry in Week 3. In the first two playoff games he recorded 12 tackles, a forced fumble, sack, interception and fumble recovery. That's getting the job done. He also was Baltimore's punt returner. He's a hard-nosed player who fit in perfectly to the Ravens' aggressive scheme. He had a career-high 85 tackles after three seasons in Buffalo and should get paid now after playing for $520,000.

"I had a great season," Leonhard told the Baltimore Sun earlier this week. "I was put in position to make plays, and fortunate enough to make a lot of them. I've spoken all season of how I love this system and this defense."

The Ravens have some serious free-agent issues starting with linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott, who are all free to leave. The expectation is one gets tagged, one gets extended and Scott leaves. The Ravens spend big on defense and might not have room for Leonhard. If he departs, perhaps he heads to the New York Jets, where Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan just took over.

Thanks for all the questions. Fire some more in and we'll get back to Four Down Territory on Thursday. As always, thanks for reading.

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18 Comments

I read this Four Down Territory, and then I went and check the Trib's website for any new stories. Two of them are up, one about Idonije hoping for a contract extension, the other about Larry English. Coincidence?

Hey Brad, what kind of music do you listen to?

The Bears have six DT's and only 7 ofensive linemen, if they are not going to extend Izzy they should trade him. To me Israel Idonije looks like a freak of nature 6-6 295 pounds and he is ripped. He does not fit the Bears system at all and I am surprised he never asked to be traded. He can play DT or End, but IMO he looks like a 5 tech for a 3-4. I know Dallas and San Diego need a starting End along with about 4 other 3-4 teams not counting the Pack who can't have him. The guy is an athletic 300 hundred pounder who can penitrate, trade him for a draft pick. Probably get a 4th rounder for the guy. Heck Rivera knows him, I bet he would do the deal. Plus the guy is 28 and would be cheap the first year. How would teams running a 3-4 not want him.

Raji is gonna be a beast in the NFL. Johnson is a super athletic chump, he loves the gym, but he is not a football player, he is an athlete much the same as Bey is an athlete but not a WR but, but at least he is not a punk. Either way the Top 3 ends in the draft wil be gone when the Bears pick, maybe even 4 and they are probably not drafting that direction anyway.

With all the talk about drafting or bringing in a DE via free agency, what about Ervin Baldwin? I know he didn't play in 2008, and he doesn't quite have the size to be an every down DE, but with Marinelli working his magic, couldn't he potentially step up as a significant force in 2009? Will the coaching staff give him a shot to be "the guy"?

Creighton, why would you want to trade of a player, Israel Idonije, that is proven, and adds quality depth to our defensive line at two positions, LE & the three technique, for unproven players that would be draft picks? I hope Chicago extends Idonije. Creighton, I agree with everything your saying about Idonije, especially when you said, "the guy is an athletic 300 pounder who can penetrate," again, why would you want to trade that off? With Rod "hey ladies" Marinelli on board now, Idonije should only benefit. Myself, I'd like to see the Bears play Idonije at left end this season, see what he has got, and maybe have him replace Ogunleye in 2010, Ogunleye is a free agent after the 2009 season. Maybe under Marinelli's tutelage, Idonije will be a pretty good left end, with his athleticism, and ability to penetrate, he's worth keeping around for Marinelli to work with.

Also Creighton, I agree with you that the top three ends will be gone before the Bears pick at #18, this is another reason I wouldn't trade off Idonije.

As far as depth on the offensive line, Im hoping, as I see you are, that Arizona offensive tackle, Eben Brittan, falls to Chicago in the first round at #18. You never know, I think he just might, some of the other tackles might add even more value in the senior bowl, which might allow Brittan to slip in the draft, and if Chicago could land Brittan, they could have a couple book ends with Brittan and Williams GO BEARS!!

My question would be: I see that our D-line has a multitude of rather thin players and only two obsurdly large players (idonije and Adams, though I could be wrong) what would be the likelihood of the Bears signing a large-bodied DT or making some of the present players gain the weight that could help?

Creighton I'm usually on board with you except on trading Idonije. The man is a beast and can play DT and both DE spots. He also plays all 4 phases of special teams. He is too valuable to let go.

Dusty always gets hurt and we haven't seen his potential yet. So I would rather see them let him go rather than a guy(Idonije) thats been healthy the last 4 seasons. I would like to see more of Adams this year as well. Plus Rod is going to separate the men from the boys when he starts his 30 minutes of hell. Then we can really see which line players are up for the task.

Ogunleye has not produced in 2 years so maybe try Idonije more in that roll and see if Anderson can get back to rookie form. The only consistant end we have is Alex Brown who should now thrive with coach Marinelli.

Go BEARS.

What is your opinion on the running back situation? Do the Bears bring back Kevin Jones or try to turn Garrett Wolfe into our own version of Sproles? Jones was basically on the shelf all year and should be 110% healthier than he was when he joined the roster. Do they draft a running back and cut Jones?

Also, what's Roberto Garza's contract situation? I still think that while the line stayed together all year and played better than ANYONE expected, we still need more interior push in the run game. I'm still sold on Olin but I'm starting to wonder about Garza.

Kevin A STOP READING SELECT WORDS. I said trade Izzy if your not going to extend him. If they don't sign him he is not a Bear for long. He is looking for an extension and he has a year left. From what I have read about it, the Bears may not offer him the money. Which means they either want to let him go after the fact, or they want to trade him. I said trade because it is better than letting him go for nothing. You will notice I said nothing bad about Izzy and complimented him a bunch of times. He does not fit in the Bears scheme that well, and thats why I think they don't use him that much. I like what I see from the guy and I like Izzy, I hope he gets a chance to start some place if he is traded but again only if they don't sign him.

Also anyone seen Mel's first mock? He has the Bears taking Jackson from LSU. A guy projected as a 3-4 End. The pick makes little sense as the guy is not a pass rusher. However he did say it would change and that you should not be surprised if the Bears draft Josh Freeman if he is there at 18. He is expecting Freeman to take a big jump up the boards over the next couple of months. Jets may grab him first though.

Creighton & Kevin,I saw Freeman in person 2 yrs ago in season when he was still throwing to Jordy Nelson who the pack picked last year, who turned out to be a productive player for them. He's a nice prospect and I would not mind seeing the BEARS pick him, but I would think that 18 is too high to use to bring him in, this jumping up the boards stuff from the combines scares me , we need someone who can come right in and play next season and we have glaring holes we need to fill. I like Freeman just not that high, I saw where SI has the BEARS bringing in Maclin at 18, that would give us a playmaker on offense who can stretch the field, our only concern aould be could he get off the line of scrimage against press coverage and could he catch the ball over the middle and take it to the house.....Keep up the due dillengce fellows we are defintely keeping interests high for next season !

Brad, w/ all this talk about bolstering the o-line and the mocks I've seen....why aren't we considering Robinson from OU? We're supposed to be a running team, and our guard play seems to get tossed aside week after week , why not start getting some studs inside to handle the Williams Duo in Minny. Everybody talks about Tackles, sign St. Clair to back-up either Tait or Williams...The guy has always been a tweener... adequate starter, above average back-up.If Robinson isn't there...What about that Mammoth from LSU, Johnson. The dude looks like a man among boys, and should be around in round 2.

Creighton, I realize what you meant, my point was, keep Idonije around for his final season, and see what Marinelli can do with him. Also Creighton. Idonije has said he wants to remain in Chicago. I believe him, if you remember a couple seasons back, Idonije actually turned down an opportunity to go to Buffalo and be a starter to stay in Chicago. I think Idonije is much like cornerback Charles Tillman, he likes playing for the Bears. Tillman could have easily gotten a major payday if he would have wanted one, Tillman could have shopped himself around much like Lance Briggs did, but instead, Tillman took the deal Chicago gave him [which wasn't bad] and stayed a Bear. I say keep Idonije around for the final year of his contract, if he shows something next season, extend him, and the Bears will have a replacement for Ogunleye at left end.

I hope Josh Freeman does shoot up draft boards, this will give Chicago a better chance to land one of the tackles, like say, Arizona tackle Eben Brittan, let the madness that is the NFL draft begin GO BEARS!!

Texasjim

Do you really believe the Bears are a running team? Think for a moment on the Bears most recent drafts and there style of play.

Chris Williams a known pass blocker who is suppose to be a poor run blocker.

Matt Forte a cut back runner who looks like he would be perfect in a WCO. Which is a passing offense.

Greg Olsen a recieving TE who can't block. Plus we let go of our blocking TE.

Then there is the fact that the Bears passed 100 more times than they ran the ball.

As for Robinson I hear he is good but 18 might be a little high. At the same time he could be gone, who knows, I have not seen that much of him. Then there is the question of while we need an upgrade on the interior, is it our biggest need? The entire interior of the line could be upgraded.

As for Johnson he as not looked good at the senior bowl. I have seen film of him getting pushed around by guys who are 100 pounds lighter than him.

Alex Mack on the other hand put the breaks on Raji during drills a couple of times and Raji has looked better than the other DT's. Even Mayock was like wow nice job. Unger has been getting pushed around a little, along with Wood as well. Those are your best interior guys. Robinson, Mack, Unger, Wood, IMO.

However Anglo tends to look position first. Thats why you hear Angelo during the draft saying we had them graded closly. Like Maclin was 93 but was gone so we took Bey who was an 82 in round 1 even though we could have got him in round two. Thats only 11 points after all, it's also why he fails. First round should always be about getting the best player for your team, not the best position player you could get at the time to fill a need. The Bears have tons of needs and could go several ways.

These are the guys I am hoping for, two third round picks, 1 is for Berrian. Either that or it will be an extra forth. But I am hoping for a third.

1. Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri (50/50 he is there)
2. Alex Mack C CAL (small chance he is there)
3. Fenuki Tupou OT Oregon, Bandon Williams DE Texas Tech
4. Zack Follet OLB CAL Smart player
5. Carry Harris CB USC Under rated
7. Tony Fiammetta FB Syracuse Love this kid. Block catch and run would really compliment Forte.

Creighton that is why you aren't doing the drafting. Those players change nothing. [1] Maclin is a maybe you never pick a WR with the # 1 most are busts, [2] Beekman is you hier apparent to a fading Kreutz, [3] Loadbolt and Oher are better propects than Tupou, [4] why are you still wasting picks without addressing the line of scimmage. You been reading to much Mayock and ESPN who's mock drafts are unfriendly to Chicago. It makes no sense to draft WR's early if your QB isn't standing to throw it to him.

Creighton,
I like the position list you have, but not the order. The only thing missing is a safety, unless you are projecting Tillman to move back there. I think Maclin could be a special player (and watching him in a couple games made me think he was smaller than 6'1, so his size is not as big an issue as I thought), so if that was the pick, I would not be too upset. I would rather see one of the DEs or OTs, but I think you are correct in that the top guys will be gone, and the leftovers will be like Duane Brown and Sam Baker in the first round this past year. Could develop into solid players, but are not first round talents.

Will Maclin be the best player on the board regardless of position when the Bears pick? It is possible. I tend to think it will be one of the LBs, but unless they are trying to replace Urlacher, that shouldn't be the pick.

I really like the idea of drafting a well-rounded FB late in the draft. McKie and Davis are nothing to write home about, and having a legit dual threat at FB might make more sense, especially in the west coast offense.

Deputy you do realize that the Bears are going either reciever or Corner with the first pick. Plus how are you going to get Oher or Loadholt in round 3? Loadholt is over rated and Oher will be gone before the Bears draft at 18. Alex Mack is the number 2 rated interior linemen in the draft right Robinson. Angelo already said he basically considers Beekman a backup. Do you know nothing about Alex Mack. The line of scrimage are you kidding me, have you not listened to Angelo? He thinks the line is ok cause Rod is there now. Not to mention who are you going to take aty 18 who will fix your line? The DT class is bad, and Raji won't be there, niether is Orakpo, Brown, Maybin. Who you gonna take Johnson who is a big question mark? By the way Tupuo will pass Loadholt as the best RT in this class. As for Mayock he is the guy who broke the story about Chris Williams back pre-draft and Angelo and Williams called him a lier. Then it turns out he was right and they both lied. Yeah you know I think I will take his word.

I can't believe you said Oher, like he is even there at 18. Who else is there in your world, let me guess everyone you want and they all happen to be first rounders and the Bears will take them. You are also one of those guys Deputy that keeps asking for a big NT for the defense. This tells me you have no clue about Lovie, Rod, or the Tampa two. You ever hear of Brad Culpepper. That is who they are trying to find for there defense. Oh and by the way my draft picks are way better than Angelo's. Just look at the mock I posted here last year for the Bears. All my guys were available to the Bears and they all did better than Angelo's picks. I will do it again this year to. You are barking up the wrong tree dawg if you think I don't know college talent or the draft. Let me remind you, Angelo has not drafted a pro bowl position player in five years.

Joe the LB class is real deep, and when I consider the draft I consider the Bears scheme. Here is name for you, to replace Hunter. Nic Harris. He is a converted Saftie playing LB. He looks great. 3rd round pick. As for Maclin he is a top 10 talent and I don't think he will be there, but I don't want Angelo reaching for Bey or Harvin. I would rather he waited to the second round and grabbed Williams from Penn or Britt from Rutgers. My favorite first round pick for the Bears is Ebon Britton but I don't think Angelo will do it. My draft is based on what position I think Angelo is looking at in those rounds. Accept for Alex Mack, I throw him in all my drafts just cause he is my favorite player this year. Alot of people think the Bears will go D-Line early but I cannot see them drafting a DT when they already have six under contract and all of them are under 30. You can only put so much money into one position. My saftie is Carry Harris, I think he will be converted too FS at the next level. People are also forgeting Angelo is giving Manning a shot at Free Saftie this year. That is why Brown is gone. Saftie and DLine is set everything else is just depth. Which is why I don't go after them in the first three rounds. The number 1 concern for the Bears is an offensive playmaker followed by oline help, according to Angelo. So thats what I went with my draft. Plus I also take into account who I think will be there. Like some people think Oher will be there in round three. Cause they don't understand the draft.

Creighton,

Wow, I see me and you are in agreement about Maclin and Britt. I like William Moore at Free Safety if he's available though (over Maclin). I also like Robiskie from OSU in the 2nd round if they do get Moore and Maclin and Britt are off the board.

As for Angelo wanting Manning to move to free safety ... FOR THE LOVE OF GOD QUIT MOVING THE GUY! Jesus, no wonder Manning has only developed as a kick returner. The poor guy has to move to a different position each and every year. Manning has good range but he was really coming along as a nickel back and now they're going to move him again.

Draft Moore and let Manning continue to play a position he's actually very good at!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 21, 2009 8:54 PM.

Bears issue apology from Marinelli for calling Detroit reporters "ladies" was the previous entry in this blog.

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