Chicago Sun-Times

Recently in Dusty Dvoracek Category

Lovie Smith announced after practice that Dusty Dvoracek had surgery this morning to repair a torn ACL. The team had said previously that he had a sprained MCL in his right knee and further tests were needed to evaluate the injury.

The Sun-Times reported earlier in the week that Dvoracek would miss the season with a torn ACL.

Danieal Manning and Zack Bowman were both on the practice field at the start of practice this afternoon, and that's a good sign as the secondary continues to slowly round itself back into form. Cornerback Charles Tillman was out playing catch with the quarterbacks before the session got started, but he hasn't been cleared for drills yet. We'll see how much work the others get done today when coach Lovie Smith speaks after practice.

Rookie defensive end Henry Melton was spotted with a walking boot on his right foot, and that's not a good sign with final cuts fast approaching. Melton really didn't do a whole lot in training camp, but he's incredibly athletic and the Bears admitted he was a project when they selected him in the fourth round from Texas. No word what the exact nature of his ankle injury is.

Defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek will undergo surgery on his right knee on Friday to determine if there's more to his injury than a sprained MCL. The Sun-Times reported he also has a torn ACL, and ESPNChicago.com confirmed that report on its own. The folks at Football Outsiders put together a chart looking at the most injured players of the last decade. Dvoracek, who has been sidelined for 35 of 48 regular-season games over the last three seasons, will rank as the most inured player of the decade if he misses 11 games this season. The way his teammates spoke of him earlier this week, it's apparent they have been told to expect him to miss the season.

It's a tough story because Dvoracek has been such a diligent worker and is so well respected by everyone in Halas Hall.

The Bears announced that Dusty Dvoracek will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Friday in an effort to determine with exactly is wrong with his right knee.

The defensive tackle was injured in the third quarter of Saturday's preseason victory over the New York Giants, and the Sun-Times reported that a source said he will miss the season with a torn ACL. Dvoracek disputed that report. All the Bears have acknowledged to this point is that Dvoracek has a sprained MCL, the type of injury that rarely requires surgery.

"Dvoracek has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL, but he may also have suffered a torn ACL. If that's indeed the case, it will be repaired during the procedure by team doctors Gordon Nuber and Mark Bowen, and cause Dvoracek to miss the entire season. If his ACL is intact, he will be available to play in 2009."


The Bears brought in some competition for special teams by adding a familiar face today.

Linebacker Darrell McClover was signed and he will be able to contribute immediately for Dave Toub's special teams unit after spending the last three seasons with the club.

McClover was the sixth linebacker the team kept on the roster to begin the season last year. He appeared in 10 games but was placed on injured reserve in late November with a pulled hamstring. He produced 14 tackles on special teams and added a blocked punt. McClover made 36 special teams tackles in 28 games for the Bears from 2006 to 2008. He's been out of work since his contract expired after last season.

dusty823.jpg

Based on his past, it cannot come as a surprise to the Bears that Dusty Dvoracek will miss the 2009 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee Saturday night against the New York Giants.

That does not make it any easier for the team when it comes to a position where there is no such thing as too much depth, and it certainly can't lessen the blow for the affable and hard-working Dvoracek. A source close to the player confirmed the injury to the Sun-Times Sunday night.

Dvoracek finished on injured reserve in each of his first three seasons. He underwent foot surgery as a rookie in 2006 after the Bears selected him in the third round from Oklahoma, where he was teammates with Tommie Harris. He rebounded to win a starting job at the start of the next season following the departure of Tank Johnson but tore the ACL in his left knee in the season opener at San Diego. Dvoracek returned as a starter last season but couldn't make it through the season as he suffered a torn biceps in Week 13.


Defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek has been fined $7,500 by the league for a late hit on Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week.

Dvoracek was penalized 15 yards on the play, which was a 19-yard completion to wide receiver Felton Huggins on third-and-10. That turned it into a 34-yard gain for the Bills.

Afterward, Dvoracek said that referee Scott Green told him he was not fined for a late hit but for helmet-to-helmet contact with Fitzpatrick. Dvoracek was adamant it was not a late hit although replays on television seemed to show he took two steps before hitting Fitzpatrick.

A league spokesman said the fine was for "unnecessarily striking the quarterback late."

urlacher730.jpg

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--There was plenty of football and non-football issues to tackle as players reported throughout the day.

You get the sense everyone involved cannot wait to get started Friday afternoon. This is the only weekend the team will be practicing at Olivet Nazarene University as the Bears have Family Day at Soldier Field on Aug. 8, play at Buffalo on Aug. 15 and will break camp before the next weekend.

This is what defensive end Alex Brown said when I asked him at the end of OTA's how he felt the Bears had improved in comparison to other teams around the league:

"I don't know what everybody else has but I tell you what, I like the team we have now,'' Brown said. "I'll tell you that. We're going to be pretty good. We've got to come play and teams change from year to year and people tend to look at what happened the previous year and say, `OK, the strength of your schedule isn't very good or it is.' The teams we have coming in, they're going to be good teams. We're going to have to come ready to play, but we're going to have a good chance to win all of them.

"Everybody knows when everything kind of started changing but you come out and you see guys playing together and see how hard guys are working and over the past 10 weeks just to see how much we've grown, not just as a D-line or a defense but as a team, you see it. We've got to dodge the injury bug. If we can do that and if we can get Tommie [Harris] back healthy, we'll be damn hard to beat, I'll tell you that.''

We're going to reach into the mailbag for some Four Down Territory before camp gets going. There aren't any major issues hanging in the balance. A year ago, you had Brian Urlacher's contract getting done just before camp and Devin Hester seeking a new contract. In the past, there was a Thomas Jones stakeout to see if he was going to show up. First-round picks have been far from signed at this point in previous years. All is quiet now. The Bears are just getting ready for football. Here we go.

Q: I read your preview for the wide receivers and you don't seem to be giving them much of a chance. Why? I see a talented group of young wide receivers and there's no reason to believe they can't flourish. Eddie Royal was a second-round pick. Brandon Marshall was a fourth-round pick. Shouldn't these guys get a chance with Jay Cutler?

Michael, Parts Unknown

A: The Bears found a talented and productive wide receiver in the third round of the 2004 draft when they selected Bernard Berrian out of Fresno State. Otherwise, the club's track record at the position under general manager Jerry Angelo is a series of misses, some bigger than others. It happens to be one of the more difficult positions to evaluate for the draft, and as Angelo has pointed out previously, the majority of the true No. 1 wideouts in the league are, guess what, first-round picks. The Bears haven't tried a wide receiver in the first round since David Terrell in 2001, and that was two months before Angelo came aboard. We're not suggesting the Bears will be unable to find help from their rookies and unproven players at the position, we're simply pointing out that after Devin Hester and Rashied Davis, that is the only thing the Bears have to lean on. If they try enough players, one of them might work. Bringing in a veteran with marginal and eroding talent would prevent a possible talent from blossoming. All of these players have a different tool box and it will be interesting to see which one(s) step forward in the three weeks of camp.


Q: Is there a veteran on the roster that will be in jeopardy of being cut? Maybe a surprise cut that could be coming?

Alex, Gurnee

A: I don't know if there are any major surprises coming. Sure, there will be some healthy competition for spots at the back end of the roster, but this team is pretty well set. There is not going to be a lot of turnover in the starting lineups and that's usually where you get your surprise cuts. There aren't any players carrying bad contracts that the team will want to unload. Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer will be in a tough spot, particularly if he's still hampered in his recovery from offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia. If healthy, he deserves an opportunity to be on the roster. Running back Adrian Peterson could be pushed for a spot as it's expected the Bears will at least consider going with three running backs. Even though Rashied Davis is the only wide receiver other than Devin Hester with real NFL experience, he'll probably need to perform well. Defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek has become Mike Brown without the long history of production the former safety had. He'll be pushed and he has to stay healthy. No one is guaranteeing jobs for tight end Michael Gaines or safety Josh Bullocks. None of these strike as potential surprise cuts. All could have a role on the 2009 team.


aadams708.jpg

We flip back to the defense today in our position-by-position previews and take a look at the defensive tackles on the roster. Four Down Territory is coming Friday when we take a break from position previews so get your questions in. Here we go.

Projected starters: Tommie Harris, 6-3, 295, 6th year, Oklahoma; Anthony Adams, 6-0, 310, 7th year, Penn State

Others

Dusty Dvoracek, 6-3, 303, 4th year, Oklahoma
Jarron Gilbert, 6-5, 285, R, San Jose State
Marcus Harrison, 6-3, 312, 2nd year, Arkansas
Israel Idonije, 6-6, 270, 6th year, Manitoba
Matt Toeaina, 6-2, 308, 2nd year, Oregon

Projected depth chart

UT: Harris, Idonije, Gilbert
NT: Adams, Harrison

2009 salary cap numbers

Anthony Adams $1,087,500
Dusty Dvoracek $723,825
Jarron Gilbert $641,500
Tommie Harris $9,090,000
Marcus Harrison $553,851
Israel Idonije $3,488,533
Matt Toeaina $465,200

Number of defensive tackles on 2008 roster at start of the season: 5/6 (6 if you counted Idonije as a tackle)

Projected number of defensive ends on 2009 roster at start of the season: 5

The skinny: This is the position that will draw a lot of attention heading into the season. The Bears believe in building from the line back and that philosophy was evident when the team used its first draft pick on Gilbert back in April. It was not the greatest need, in fact it was far from it, but the organization is committed to collecting quality linemen. Now all Gilbert has to do is be known for more than jumping out of a pool, but more on him later on. Harris is the motor that drives the front seven and he was brought along with care during the offseason. It made sense. Nothing Harris could have done on the final day of minicamp in March or during some of the OTA's in May and June was going to translate on the field in September when it counts. He has a balky left knee and the team is playing it smart. It's all about getting quality snaps out of Harris when it matters. He was on the field for 623 plays last season spread across 14 games. That's a good number for him this season over 16 games. If the Bears get a solid rotation going they will not have to lean on Harris as much and perhaps will be able to preserve him for the stretch run. That figure of 623 was easily tops for interior lineman. The wild card guy here in the bunch is Harrison. He showed sparks during his rookie season when he had five QB hits, two sacks, two passes defended and three tackles for loss, but he also disappeared on occasion. Harrison has a knee issue that lingers with him. Remember, he had an ACL reconstruction entering his final year of school. He's bulked up or ballooned up depending on how you look at it, and that's probably for more action at nose tackle although he'll probably see time at both spots. If he can step forward--some had a first-round grade on him but the knee issue and the drug bust dropped him to the third round--the Bears will be very much improved. But don't forget Adams. He's been the most consistent performer on the interior for two seasons. Lost behind Dvoracek for the first half of the season, he emerged and you had to scratch your head wondering what took him so long to get on the field. He's stout vs. the run and he adds more of an interior pass rush than Dvoracek, who wore down as the season went along. Dvoracek has finished the season on injured reserve each of his three seasons and he's all the way back from a biceps injury. He could be hard pressed to make the roster. The Bears kept nine linemen going into the 2008 season and Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Mark Anderson, Henry Melton, Idonije, Adams, Gilbert, Harris and Harrison figure to have roster spots the way we break it down. Injuries could happen and we could be wrong. Both have happened before and both will happen again. There's not a person we've encountered who doesn't really like Dvoracek but he will have to have a big camp and preseason most likely. Gilbert is an interesting guy because he's a little light and who knows if he eventually winds up outside, maybe at left end. But he'll get to learn from Harris and that's a good place to start, especially if Harrison is going to be worked more at nose. Idonije will probably play all four spots on the line before the season is over. Picking a spot for him is tough because he's so versatile. Toeaina is in a tough position just like Dvoracek. Some people really like him as a run stuffer but there will only be so many spots under new line coach Rod Marinelli, the man charged with getting the most out of this unit. Notice we're not diving into the whole subject of whether or not Marinelli can be a savior.

FIrst-round pick Peria Jerry limped off the practice field in Atlanta on Saturday.

The day before, New Orleans linebacker Stanley Arnoux, a fourth-round pick from Wake Forest who Aaron Curry called the best player on their college team, ruptured an Achilles tendon in a minicamp practice.

Last weekend, New England linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, a third-round pick, blew out an ACL in minicamp.

Injuries happen in the offseason and no team knows better than the Bears. The good news coming out of Atlanta this morning is that Falcons coach Mike Smith called Jerry's injury a mild sprain. Remember though, that is what the Bears said second-round pick Dan Bazuin had in 2007 in a rookie minicamp. As it turned out, he had a knee injury that led to two surgeries and ultimately cost him his entire rookie season. Bazuin still wasn't the same player at the end of training camp last summer and wound up being cut. Arnoux and McKenzie will get to experience being rookies all over again next season. They're both done for the year.

Draft picks take part in rookie minicamps and portions of the offseason program without having contracts. They sign agreements with their teams that they will be given fair contracts in the event they are injured. That's not a big deal--it happens everywhere. The point worth making is that the offseason isn't without its share of bumps and bruises, some of them serious.

adeogun.jpg


When the Bears used two of their first three draft picks on defensive linemen, one of the first questions we had was where are they going to carve out some playing time?

As coaches like to say, that will sort itself out. That is the refrain that signals competition is on the way, the one thing that sorts out players and pecking order more than anything else.

Tackle Jarron Gilbert and end Henry Melton have been added to the mix and all of the linemen from 2008 are back this season.

"They're big, athletic guys,'' new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said of the draft picks. "They have speed, and they bend very well. In terms of just the size and movement they show, we're very happy with them."

Israel Idonije has been bounced outside to end again but none of the players have left. They're all in the mix for 2009 so it is going to be an interesting situation. The Bears carried 10 linemen on the roster at times last season. They opened with nine but expanded when they promoted end Ervin Baldwin from the practice squad in November to prevent losing him to Kansas City. They went back to nine after tackle Dusty Dvoracek landed on injured reserve in December for the third consecutive season.

So adding Gilbert, the third-round pick from San Jose State, and Melton, the fourth-round pick from Texas, to the roster the Bears now have 13 players for what should be nine or 10 slots. That includes postseason addition Joe Clermond, who was a camp body last summer and spent some time on the practice squad. Clermond and Baldwin, a seventh-round pick a year ago, face an uphill battle. The Bears look locked into keeping five ends--Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Idonije and Melton--and that means the remaining cuts will have to come from the interior. Matt Toeaina has had a role as a well-liked backup but simply hasn't been given any real opportunities.

But beyond the roster spots, let's take a close look at playing time by evaluating the number of snaps that were shared on the line last season:

Need No. 6--Defensive tackle

Players on roster

DT Tommie Harris (signed through 2012)
NT Anthony Adams (2010)
DT Marcus Harrison (2011)
NT Dusty Dvoracek (2009)
DT Matt Toeaina (2009)
DE/DT Israel Idonije (2009)

Need

If Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith have a hobby, it's collecting defensive linemen and defensive backs. Harris is the key here and is as important to the success of the defense as a whole as Smith is as the new play caller. There was a buzz about Harris not finishing the minicamp last month but what's important--virtually meaningless drills in mid-March or a game in September? When Dan Hampton was still a dominating force in the middle of the Bears' defense, he'd miss practice time with knee issues. The Bears knew exactly where Harris was from a health standpoint when they signed him to a $40 million, four-year extension last summer, a deal that for practical purposes will total $34 million over four years.

Twitter updates

Categories

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Dusty Dvoracek category.

Drew Weatherford is the previous category.

Earl Bennett is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.