Chicago Bears: Landon Cohen

Bears sign DE Trevor Scott

March, 6, 2014
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The Chicago Bears signed veteran defensive end Trevor Scott to a one-year contract, the team announced on Thursday.

Scott has appeared in 76 games with 18 starts over six seasons with the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6-foot-5, 260 pound defensive end played in just four games and recorded three tackles for the Bucs last season.

Oakland’s six-round choice (No. 168 overall) in the 2008 NFL draft out of the University of Buffalo, Scott had five sacks for the Raiders his rookie, then registered a career-high seven sacks, 37 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss and 12 quarterback hits in 2009.

Scott also has 20 lifetime tackles on special teams.

The Bears view upgrading the defensive line as one of their top offseason priorities after the unit struggled last season due to injuries and inconsistent play.

Veteran defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff agreed to terms on a new two-year deal on Wednesday, while fellow defensive linemen Henry Melton, Nate Collins, Corey Wootton and Landon Cohen are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents when the NFL’s new league year begins on March 11. The Bears signed former Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions defensive end Austen Lane to a one-year deal in February.

Another decision looming for the Bears on the defensive line is the roster status of eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers, 34 years old, is scheduled to count $18,183,333 against the Bears’ 2014 salary structure under the terms of his current contract and is fresh off a mediocre 2013 season.

Bears position outlook: Defensive tackle

January, 27, 2014
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2014 free agents: Landon Cohen, Nate Collins, Henry Melton, Jeremiah Ratliff and Corey Wootton (DT/DE).

The good: Wootton proved flexible enough to move inside after Melton and Collins were lost for the season due to knee injuries. Although Wootton was bothered by a hip issue that eventually required offseason surgery to correct, the versatile free-agent defensive linemen managed to record 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 12 quarterback pressures. Bears general manager Phil Emery was non-committal about Wootton’s future with the club at the end of the regular season, but did remark that, “I’m sure that we’ll continue to talk to him.” Wootton is expected to need several months to rehabilitate his surgically repaired hip before he receives the necessary medical clearance to resume football-related activities without restrictions. Ratliff, a nine-year NFL veteran who the Bears added to the roster later in the year, did a serviceable job in the final five games and is another candidate to return.

The bad: How much time do you have? Decimated by injuries (Melton, Collins and Stephen Paea) and the surprise retirement of Sedrick Ellis on the eve of training camp, the Bears were exposed up the middle in the run game and failed to generate an acceptable pass rush. Six opponents rushed for at least 198 yards versus the Bears. Some of those running lanes between the tackles against the Bears defense can best be described as monstrous. Remove Wootton from the equation and the entire defensive tackle group combined for only 4.0 sacks over the entire season. Melton played in just three games despite pocketing $8,454,725 as the club’s franchise-tag player. Not surprisingly, the team recently parted company with defensive line coach Mike Phair.

The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Thankfully, the Bears have next to nothing allocated to the position. With almost the entire group currently scheduled to be off the books, the highest projected cap figure belongs to Paea -- $1,172,787. Although the Bears tied up a good portion of their 2014 salary-cap space with extensions for quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerback Tim Jennings, left guard Matt Slauson and kicker Robbie Gould, there are options available to open up more space to potentially add a proven defensive tackle in free agency if necessary.

Draft priority: Urgent. The Bears must begin the task of rebuilding the defensive line. Emery promised a younger defense in 2014. The only way to accomplish that is by finding high-impact defensive players in the draft who can contribute immediately. Selecting a defensive tackle in the early rounds appears likely.

Stock Watch: Pass rush makes an impact

November, 19, 2013
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 Julius PeppersAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastJulius Peppers had his best game of the season with 11 tackles, 2.0 sacks and four tackles-for-loss.

RISING

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David Bass
1. David Bass, DE: A seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2013 out of Missouri Western State who was claimed by the Bears off waivers, Bass made the biggest play of his young professional career on Sunday, intercepting a Joe Flacco pass at the line of scrimmage and returning it 14 yards for a touchdown. Bass' pick-six changed the momentum of the game, and without it, the Bears likely don't crawl out of the 10-0 hole they dug for themselves before Sunday's lengthy weather delay. At 6-foot-4, 256 pounds, Bass isn't built like a prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but he's shown promise this season in six appearances. In addition to the interception, Bass finished the Baltimore game with four tackles and one tackle-for-loss. Expect Bass to keep himself in the mix at defensive end, especially with Shea McClellin dealing with a hamstring injury.

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Julius Peppers
2. Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers easily had his most productive game of the year with a season-high 11 tackles, 2.0 sacks and four tackles-for-loss in the 23-20 victory against Ravens. This proves that Peppers, 33, can still be a difference-maker. But these kinds of efforts from Peppers have been few and far between in 2013. Can the veteran defensive end string a bunch of these games together down the stretch as the Bears push for a postseason berth? The answer to that question is unknown. But with three sacks over the past three games, Peppers seems to be heating up at the right time for a Bears' defense ravaged by injuries.

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Gould
3. Robbie Gould, K: Gould's candid and confident demeanor can rub certain people in Chicago the wrong way, but his on-field results are indisputable. Gould was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts on Sunday, this despite horrendous weather conditions at Soldier Field. But Gould has made a living navigating the treacherous winds of Chicago, and is 19-of-20 for the season. The most accurate kicker in franchise history and one of the most accurate in league history, Gould has now kicked 11 game-winning field goals with six of those in overtime.

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Josh McCown
4. Josh McCown, QB: All McCown does is win games and run the offense. Whenever a quarterback protects the ball and doesn't turn it over, his team has a shot to win every week. McCown's 2013 numbers are remarkable: 61-of-101 passes completed for 754 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. That's a 100.0 quarterback rating. Even if the good times don't last much longer for McCown, this has been one of the most unexpected and enjoyable stories that I've covered in quite some time. McCown always wins the news conference with his genuine, kind, intelligent and humble personality, but now he's winning important games for the Bears. McCown is 2-0. He runs the offense the correct way. There is no need for Jay Cutler to rush back from his high-ankle sprain. None.

FALLING

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Landon Cohen
1. Landon Cohen, DT: The Ravens were averaging 73 rushing yards per game entering Week 10, but Baltimore had plenty of success on the ground against the Bears. Ray Rice ran for 131 yards and one touchdown, and Baltimore finished the game with 174 rushing yards on 41 attempts. Baltimore found much of the running room up the gut of the Bears' defense, where Cohen played 59 snaps because nose tackle Stephen Paea (19 snaps) left the game early with a toe injury. Cohen hasn't been a bad addition, but Sunday wasn't his finest moment.

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Brandon Marshall
2. Brandon Marshall, WR: Marshall has been great for the Bears with a team-high 64 receptions for 828 yards and eight touchdowns, but he caught just four passes for 42 yards on 10 targets against the Ravens. Marshall more than carries his weight on offense, but he will occasionally drop catchable balls, as he did on Sunday when the wideout let a perfectly thrown pass from McCown slip through his fingers. In the rare instances when Marshall has been a non-factor for the Bears, he usually responds the following week by putting up big numbers. The smart money says Marshall finds the end zone multiple times in Week 12 when the Bears travel to St. Louis, and finishes the game as the club's leading receiver. History has shown us that Marshall generally finds a way to bounce back, regardless of the quarterback.
Tim JenningsAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastTim Jennings' first interception he returned for a TD. His second one preserved the Bears' win.
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CHICAGO -- In the past, clinging to a six-point lead with 5:21 left and the opposing team taking possession at its own 11-yard line, it would have seemed almost certain the Chicago Bears would hold on to win.

Yet that wasn’t the feeling Thursday night at a tense Soldier Field, and likely won’t ever be this season with the way Chicago’s defense continues to struggle.

During that frantic sequence, New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs broke loose for 14 yards on first down. Three plays later, Eli Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for an 11-yard gain. Two more running plays picked up 25 yards, and by the 2:02 mark, the Giants had advanced all the way to the Chicago 35.

“It wasn’t pretty out there,” said cornerback Tim Jennings, arguably the game’s most valuable player. He preserved Chicago’s 27-21 victory with an interception at the Bears' 10-yard line with 1:54 remaining, and he had put a touchdown on the board in the first quarter with a 48-yard interception return.

“We got off to a fast start. We didn’t finish strong, though. We’ve got to go back and figure it out. We didn’t play well. Of course we’re happy with the win. But just going back and watching, it’s not going to be a pretty thing to watch. It’s a learning tool. We’ll get something out of it.”

The Bears certainly need to.

Chicago captured its 10th consecutive victory in a game in which it scored a defensive touchdown. Since 2005, the Bears are 24-2 when they score on defense. It's an impressive statistic. But the primary objective on defense is to stop the opponent from scoring -- something Chicago hasn’t done all season.

The Bears are allowing 26.8 points per game, and haven’t yet limited an opponent to fewer than 21 points. Since 2010, the Bears are 15-6 when they hold teams to 17 points or fewer. During that span, when they allow 18 points or more the Bears are 18-15.

“Our guys, we missed some tackles,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We didn’t make some plays, certainly, we need to make down the road here.”

Jacobs finished the game with 106 yards and two touchdowns, marking the third time an opponent rushed for 100 yards or more against the Bears.

The Giants came into the game with the NFL’s lowest conversion percentage (26.2) on third down, yet skyrocketed that number up to 64 percent against the Bears. Manning completed four passes for gains of 20 yards or more, including two connections for 30-plus yards.

“We’ve got to work on third downs,” Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “Third downs have been the bane of our defense this year.”

[+] EnlargeBrandon Jacobs
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Bears struggled to bring down Giants running back Brandon Jacobs all evening long.
Injuries, too. Already hurting up front due to season-ending injuries to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton and Nate Collins, the Bears also played Thursday night without starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who missed his second consecutive game, and Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman.

Chicago’s starting front four featured defensive end Corey Wootton inside at tackle alongside Landon Cohen, who joined the team on Sept. 29, as well as defensive ends Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin.

By the time the Giants attempted to mount their late rally, the Bears had already lost two more starters: linebackers in D.J. Williams (chest) and James Anderson (back)

“You’re right about these injuries,” safety Major Wright said. “But it’s the NFL? What do you expect?”

Obviously not what observers in the past had become accustomed to from a Bears defense in a crucial situation with advantageous field position. But in the end, Chicago’s defense found a way to seal the victory thanks to two interceptions from Jennings and another from Zack Bowman, who filled in for Tillman.

“We want to be out there on that field around that time,” Wright said. “We’ve got some special players, and any time during a game, we can get a turnover -- by anybody. We knew something was gonna happen, and it was Tim.”

But the truth is, the Bears can’t always rely on that.

Bears DT Collins (knee) leaves game

October, 6, 2013
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins sustained a left knee injury in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints and has been ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Collins hurt the knee while attempting to pressure Saints quarterback Drew Brees on a pass attempt. Collins' knee appeared to buckle as he was tied up with a New Orleans offensive lineman. The four-year veteran defensive lineman grabbed his knee after falling to the ground and remained on the turf for a short period of time before eventually walking back to the locker room under his own power.

Collins moved into the Bears’ starting lineup after Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Entering Sunday’s game versus the Saints, Collins led all Bears defensive linemen with 10 tackles through the first four games. Collins also recorded two quarterback pressures and forced one fumble.

The Bears are perilously thin on their defensive line. Not only are Turk McBride and Melton already on injured reserve, but starting nose tackle Stephen Paea was inactive on Sunday because of toe injury. The Bears also lost another prospective body on the defensive line when veteran tackle Sedrick Ellis announced his retirement on the eve of training camp.

Because of the rash of injuries on the defensive line, relative newcomer Landon Cohen and undrafted rookie Zach Minter are both in the defensive tackle rotation on Sunday, along with Corey Wootton, who the club bumped inside from his customary defensive end spot. David Bass is seeing significant playing time outside at end.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears signed defensive tackle Landon Cohen on Friday, and officially placed franchise defensive tackle Henry Melton on injured reserve.

Melton tore the ACL in his left knee with 12:58 left to play in Chicago’s 40-23 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Looking to add depth, the Bears brought in Cohen and Daniel Muir for tryouts, before opting Friday to sign the former.

“I just talked to [general manager] Phil [Emery] about him,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “I don’t know much, but he’s with us. We’ll find out a little bit more. Phil’s been out of town, so I’ll have a chance to chat with him. I did by phone, but [I’ll] have a chance to talk with him a little bit more.”

Cohen has played in 27 career NFL games (with five starts) for Detroit (2008-09), Jacksonville (2010), New England (2010-11) and Dallas (2013). He has posted 32 tackles.

Fourth-year veteran Nate Collins will start Sunday opposite Stephen Paea, who is expected to move into Melton’s customary spot as the three-technique while Collins plays nose tackle. It’s likely that defensive end Corey Wootton will also kick inside to defensive tackle to enter the rotation, which will also include undrafted free-agent Zach Minter.

Minter had been among the team’s inactives over the first three games.

“[Melton] is definitely a great player. No one is going to do what he does out there,” Minter said. “But when the opportunity presents itself, it’s our job to take advantage, but also step up and play like he’s not missing. So it’s up to us to keep the momentum going, keep the pass rush up and get after the football.”

Melton has 13 sacks since 2011, which ranks second among defensive tackles during that span. So replacing him will be a difficult proposition for Chicago’s already struggling pass rush. Through the first three games, Collins has contributed seven tackles in limited action.

Filling in for an injured Melton at Pittsburgh, Collins posted two tackles.

“I feel like I’m aggressive, like I might be a little undersized,” Collins said. “But in some situations, playing in that phone booth at nose tackle, it’s an advantage as long as I keep my pads down and use my leverage to my advantage.”

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