By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) — As NFL offenses continue to evolve into high-octane passing games, the defenses are trying to adapt.
While most of the Bears’ scheme under new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is the same, there are some new wrinkles.
One of those wrinkles is upright linemen on passing downs, including defensive tackle Henry Melton. He got work standing up during OTAs and saw extensive time in that alignment during Tuesday’s training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University.
Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m going to do it,” Melton said. “If it’s going to help us win games, then I’m all for it.”
By not being restricted to a three-point stance, Melton has options for where he wants to rush the passer. More importantly, it keeps the offensive line guessing and creates confusion, which could possibly open up a hole for another defensive lineman. Melton can also drop back into coverage though, and that has the potential to create a mistake from an opposing quarterback who is not used to seeing a defensive tackle drop back.
So is Melton comfortable dropping back in coverage?
“Yeah, I’m an athlete,” he said. “Come on.”
The Bears will likely show a number of different looks with their hybrid defensive line, including at least three defensive ends on passing downs.
Earl Bennett Still Out With Concussion
Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett missed practice again Tuesday and the Bears say he is still being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.
In other words, Bennett has a concussion. The wide receiver left Saturday’s practice and didn’t return, but it’s possible the injury actually started at the end of Friday’s practice after a collision in the end zone.
This could potentially be a blow for the Bears as Bennett missed two games last season with a concussion and the symptoms tend to increase after multiple hits to the head.
From The Infirmary
– Left tackle Jermon Bushrod continued his road back from a calf injury by participating in some team drills Tuesday. He was still limited, however.
– Julius Peppers was excused from practice Tuesday. He missed Monday’s practice with a hamstring injury suffered Saturday.
– Matt Forte received a rest day.
– Offensive tackle Jonathan Scott sat out practice after returning for individual drills Monday. He is nursing a sore knee.
– Middle linebacker D.J. Williams (calf) wore a walking boot for the second straight day after being out of it at the end of last week.
– After not seeing much use of the fullback with the first-team, Tony Fiammetta was heavily involved in red zone work Tuesday and even caught a touchdown pass from Jay Cutler.
– Eric Weems received a lot of first-team work Tuesday with Bennett still out. Cutler targeted Weems frequently but struggled to complete passes to him because of his lack of height. Charles Tillman had the receiver blanketed on one play and Shea McClellin intercepted another intended pass from Weems near the line of scrimmage. Weems also fumbled a ball after a catch Tuesday.
– Cutler and Brandon Marshall were off Tuesday and one time the miscommunication led to Cutler throwing a pass straight to safety Chris Conte.
“We’ll have a talk after practice and get back on the same page,” Cutler said.
– New tight end Leonard Pope saw some time with the first team.
– The coaching staff threw multiple snap counts at the offensive line Tuesday and the entire offense handled it well.
“We did not have a pre-snap penalty today and it was our most difficult day at the line of scrimmage with snap counts,” Trestman said.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.