Chicago Sun-Times

Marinelli: 'I feel very good about these guys'

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Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli speaks softy and carries a very small stick when it comes to media interviews, especially in training camp. Its no wonder he and Lovie Smith get along so well. When it comes to evaluating their players publicly, the more they talk, the less they say.

So not surprisingly, there were no revelations when Marinelli met the media for the first time this season Thursday at Bears training camp in Bourbonnais. Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher are really good players. Anthony Adams knows the system. Major Wright should be better in his second year in the system.

How good can Amobi Okoye or Vernon Gholston be? ''I just want to see him in practice,'' Marinelli said, ''see what he does well, understand the concepts of our defense -- how hard we're going to play, and the tempo. Then we'll kind of go from there.''

For what it's worth, Marinelli mentioned four players unprompted: defensive ends Israel Idonije, Peppers and Wootton and Urlacher.

''I think another year for Izzy -- he's come out of there and he's looked really quick and sharp,'' Marinelli said. ''We know Pep. Nothing to be said about that, what he is. I like what Wootton has done so far in camp. He's really trimmed himself down. Looks quick, looks fast.''

Asked about the progress the defense has made in the four days of training camp that the players actually have been on the field -- only one of them in pads and none of them with the full complement of players on the roster, Marinelli lauded Urlacher's excellence.

''What's impressive with these guys -- with 54 inside, you can draw cards forever trying to trick this guy. He knows what he's doing. He can adjust this defense. He's just an absolutely great football player. Now it comes down to developing our skill every day.''

Asked if the defense can get better this year, or will just work hard to stagnate in 2011, Marinelli said the expectations are to exceed last year's performance.

''Our expectations continue to go up because we were one step away,'' Marinelli said. ''We've got to make another step. But before that, we've got to get back down to the basics. These guys are going to know to do. That's a given. But what we've got to do is make sure we do what we know -- that means the fundamentals. We've got to get drilled back in the fundamentals.

''That's about execution. That's coaches and players together. When we execute, it's on the players and coaches together that we've got to get this done. That's our drill work and all those things. I feel very good about these guys. Now if we can add a few more pieces to it, it's going to help us.''

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I see no reason Chicago's defense shouldn't be as good as last season if not a little better. I mean yeah guys like Uralcher and Peppers are always gonna come to play, they're both future Hall of Famers, and the two main reasons this defense is what it is.

A player I like this year is safety Major Wright, especially the physicality he'll bring to the defensive secondary along with his speed. Corey Wootton is another one to watch out for in year 2, with his 6-6 frame and speed off the snap, he could give the Bears another good edge rusher. I actually like what I've been hearing about 2nd year corner Josh Moore also, Moore was one of last years draft classes more aggressive corners and he's been making a lot of plays early in camp. Its also gonna be interesting to see what new comers Vernon Gholston and Amobi Okoye bring.

If Okoye can play, or if he shows anything during these next couple practices, Marcus Harrison's days in Chicago are probably done. The guy can't seem to keep his weight under control again this season, I look for Harrison to get the axe by the end of camp. The word is rookie Stephen Paea is gonna get a long look at nose tackle tonight, probably so Oyoye can get a look at the 3-tech, if Okoye shows something, Harrison's day could be numbered. It should be interesting GO BEARS!!

Oh yeah, another player I forgot to mention above is 3-tech Henry Melton, I still say he's gonna be the breakout player on this defense this year. On the Bears web-site I read that Melton has bulked up to 295lbs, making him a better fit inside. Melton has been running with the 1st team defense, he was 2nd on the team last season with 9 QB pressures. Look out for this guy this season GO BEARS!!

Hey Jerry , Where is that MUCH needed CB the Bears have been missing ? Maybe you should draft one EVERY year (like you do with safety's) ! Even a broken clock is right twice a day !

It would be a real nice surprise if the Bears could produce a serious pass rush with just the front four. Peppers was a monster last year even though the numbers don't show it. Just look at the film and see the havoc he created. Plus having a pass rush from the tackle spots would only help keep the linebackers from eating so many blockers. To many times last year the guards or centers reach the second level when they ran up the middle. The other teams knew our D tackles where decent in the run situations but pass plays less than average at best. I am really rooting for Okoeye to have a big year this year. Of course the Bears need to start getting away from that darn Lovie Tampa2! To often on third and long passes were completed behind the linebackers when play went to long and the field stretched. The corners will be a concern sooner than we think.

He definitely has bulked up. But, I think the Bears have to be mindful how much they play Melton. I'm not sure yet, if he's an every down player, and I would guess that they'll use him in obvious passing situations.

Sean, I think Melton is the reason Chicago let Tommie Harris go, especially after watching how much pressure Melton can create inside in limited snaps last season. The fact he bulked up to 295 from 260, is probably so he can be an every down guy. I do know Chicago likes to rotate their defensive linemen so wear and tear shouldn't be a factor for Melton anyways. I'm sure we'll see a lot of Melton and Toeaina at the 3-tech. Plus I'm sure newcomer Amobi Okoye will be in the mix, I heard he did create a little pressure last night, although I did hear he also had a little trouble playing the run last night, even getting run over by Marion Barber. This position is gonna be one to watch GO BEARS!!

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