|National Football League|
So far, D-line giving Bears pressure they need
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
It's just a Texas-Oklahoma thing.
The former Longhorn said Thursday he'll have something to say to Bradford if he sacks him and it won't be, "Nice to see you."
"I'm not miked up this game, so it's going to be dirty," said Melton, the Bears' defensive tackle.
The way he's been performing, he just might get to the quarterback. The same goes for the rest of the defensive line.
A big concern when the season started, that unit is performing well so far. With Julius Peppers creating his usual havoc and other players stepping up, the Bears are tied for second in the NFL with eight sacks.
They got to Aaron Rodgers five times in last week's loss at Green Bay after three against Andrew Luck in a season-opening win, not bad given all the handwringing over the defensive line coming into the season.
Melton is tied for second in the league with three and is off to another strong start. Peppers has two sacks, and Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin each have 1 1/2 apiece.
No wonder Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs likes what he's seeing.
"I'm pleased," he said. "We have a lot of positives to take from our first two weeks. The pass rush is one of them. I know you guys see Henry Melton showing up a lot, Pep, (Israel Idonije), all those guys. I think they're gonna be key to our success."
The Bears are going against a team this week that has been hit hard by injuries and has only one projected starter still at his position in guard Harvey Dahl. Rams center Scott Wells (broken foot), tackle Rodger Saffold (right knee MCL sprain) and guard Rokevious Watkins (ankle) are all out, with Wells on short-term injured reserve and Watkins on injured reserve. Guard Quinn Ojinnaka was released Sept. 2, re-signed Sept. 11 and started last week.
On the surface, this might be a good matchup for the Bears' defensive line. Yet, the Rams held their ground in last week's 31-28 win over Washington.
Bradford got sacked twice but really didn't take a beating, throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns to help St. Louis (1-1) come away with its first win under coach Jeff Fisher.
That performance certainly impressed the Bears, and they know they need to get pressure up front. What they've seen so far is at least encouraging.
"One play it's Izzy, one play it's myself, one play it's Shea, one play it's Pep, so it gives everybody a different look," Wootton said. "And inside they're doing a good job of rotating as well. It's different looks all across the board."
In his second year as a starter, a familiar pattern is unfolding for Melton. Now, he just needs to script a different ending.
He started strong last year with three sacks in the first three games but managed just four the rest of the way, after teams started to focus more on that.
"It's mostly mental," Melton said. "Especially playing that position, you get torn down physically. Then you've got to stay on track mentally to keep yourself in shape and keep making plays."
He said he hasn't really added much to his repertoire. He just has another season under his belt, and he believes that will help.
Now, he's about to meet a familiar, old foe in Bradford, someone he remembers forearming in the face during a game in college. He said that led to a personal foul, and Melton vowed not to do that this time.
He will do everything he can, though, to get to the quarterback. He's been having success in that area so far, and the same goes for the Bears' defensive line.
Notes: Pro Bowl LB Brian Urlacher basically brushed off the sideline confrontation between Jay Cutler and LT J'Marcus Webb during the Green Bay game, saying it was no big deal and that he was unaware of any backlash against the QB in the locker room. "Someone told me there was a mutiny against Jay in our locker room," Urlacher said. "If there was I didn't know about it. I guess we're supposed to be mad at him, but things happen on the sideline. That's just the way it goes. People get mad, I've gotten into spats with coaches, players, as well. It happens. It's just what happens in the NFL. People get (ticked) off and sometimes do things we shouldn't do, but it happened." Cutler drew criticism from national analysts and even teammate D.J. Moore for berating and bumping Webb and then making some pointed comments afterward. But Urlacher's reaction could basically be summed up in two words: So what? "It's just like a fight in practice. It's in practice, who cares? You guys probably see us fight in training camp every year. So what, after the practice is over you are in the locker room and you're buddies again. It's not a big deal." ... The Bears held RB Matt Forte (sprained right ankle) and Urlacher (coach's decision) out of Thursday's practice, while Peppers (foot) returned after sitting out the previous day.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated September 20, 2012