Bears Anxious To See Revamped Defensive Line

BOURBONNAIS-When the season opens the Bears will most likely have three starters up front who didn't start last year's opener. LaMarr Houston, Jeremiah Ratliff, and Jared Allen. The new blood was needed after the Bears allowed more points and more yards than ever before, and they tied for last in the NFL in sacks. Overhauling the line was priority number one for Phil Emery.

"We're extremely excited about the competitive balance of that group," says Emery. "The players that we've brought in through free agency and the draft, and the street free agents that we've brought in."

Allen is the best known of the newcomers. But the Bears are also very excited about Houston's upside. He started all 16 games for the Raiders last season, and he had six sacks.

And former Lion Willie Young can play inside or outside. Last season he had 60 quarterback disruptions and seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He feels like he's only beginning to scratch the surface of what he can do.

"I highly agree with that," says Young. "I put a little bit of stuff on film. It'll be interesting to see this year though. I don't have Ndamukong Suh next to me or Nick Fairley, but I definitely got a counter partner in Jared Allen. I got Lamar Houston there. Rafliff. All of those guys are dominant threats."

If some of those front-line guys don't pan out the way the Bears hope, rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton are eager to show what they can do.

"We're just trying to learn as fast as we can," says Sutton. "They brought us in here for a reason to play right away. We've got to go out there and just take everything in. We've got to go out there and compete."

"I feel if we put the work in in practice, take it a day at a time, and try to help each other improve I think the sky is the limit for us," says Ferguson.

"Every day is a competition for us," says defensive tackle Stephen Paea. "There's no job that's safe. When you compete against each other with each other you're going to make the team better."

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