It looks like Israel Idonije is on the move.
Back outside that is.
The Bears' defensive lineman is in the process of shedding weight, according to a report in the Winnipeg Sun, and it's believed he will be used more at end than tackle this coming year. That's the reverse of what happened last offseason for the versatile veteran. Idonije added between 25 and 30 pounds this time last year at the direction of the team for a move inside.
"If Idonije, well on his way from 306 to 270 pounds, keeps as busy all off-season as he is right now, he may resemble a wide receiver by Week 1."
Boy, could the Bears use some help at receiver, Idonije isn't it though. He made three starts at tackle in 2008 and played in all 16 games. He contributed 28 tackles with 3 1/2 sacks, five quarterback hits and six passes defended. But by the end of the season his playing time was trimmed significantly, however, after coach Lovie Smith made taken more control of the defense from coordinator Bob Babich. Idonije participated in 42 percent of the defensive snaps on the year but he was on the field closer to one-third of the time down the stretch.
What the move inside also did was make him less effective on special teams, where he had been a core player. Idonije was taken off the kickoff team, replaced by rookie tight end Kellen Davis. He was on the field for 50 percent of the special teams plays, down from 64 percent in 2007. Idonije made four special teams tackles in 2008, half as many as he made the year before and six less than the 10 he had in 2006.
Dropping weight will make him more mobile and allow him to contribute more on special teams. With the development of rookie Marcus Harrison, and the emergence of Anthony Adams (who took playing time from Idonije in the second half of the season), new line coach Rod Marinelli has options inside. Plus, Idonije was able to play inside in the past even if he was a little light.
Idonije, who will turn 29 during the season, is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $1.75 million this season.
``We'd love to work out an extension for him,'' agent Drew Rosenhaus said
If that's something the Bears pursue, they'll have to determine what kind of value you place on a part-time player who who is coming up on 30. Right now, it looks like Idonije will prove his worth at end back at the playing weight he is more accustomed to being at.