Chicago Bears: Sedrick Ellis

Bears position outlook: Defensive tackle

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
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.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman offered no definitive statement on the future of embattled defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, but Trestman praised the way Tucker handled the injury-riddled defense on multiple occasions during Thursday’s 90-minute joint news conference with team general manager Phil Emery.

However, Trestman said a direct conversation between himself and Tucker still needs to take place before he can comment on the status of his coaching staff.

“I don’t want anybody to read into anything what we are doing,” Trestman said. “Everything is on the table. We’re going through a very thoughtful and methodical process here. Other than that, we’ve talked enough at these press conferences that I’m hopeful you won’t [draw conclusions on the staff]. We’re going to look at everything because we have an obligation to do that and what I can do to get this football team better.

"Everything is on the table. Again, we’re just three days into this. All we’ve done is looked at some tape. This is a process that’s going to involve not just myself, but all of our coaches. It’ll be a process where we’ve left everything on the table.”

The Bears finished 2013 ranked No. 30 in total defense and dead last in rushing defense and yards allowed per play. The defense was also tied for 30th in points allowed and ranked 26th in sacks per pass play.

But the group did suffer key injuries to cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs, defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins, middle linebacker D.J. Williams, nickel back Kelvin Hayden and defensive lineman Turk McBride. Veteran defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis also opted to retire on the eve of training camp, further depleting the Bears’ depth on the defensive line.

When relatively healthy, the Bears' defense put up respectable numbers over the first three games of the regular season, but their performance sharply regressed as the year wore on.

“I think it’s a real shame that Mel got the raw end of the deal,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show” on Monday that he believes Tucker will be the team’s defensive coordinator until “he lands a head coaching job” either in the NFL or college ranks.

Trestman said he and Emery work together when shaping the coaching staff, but Emery clarified that Trestman has final say on the matter.

Bears DT Collins (knee) leaves game

October, 6, 2013
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.

DE Wootton classified as day to day

August, 2, 2013
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears never disclosed results of the MRI exam on the hip of defensive end Corey Wootton, but said Friday the injury isn't serious and his recovery is "day to day."

"We'll monitor it," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "The feeling coming out of today is that he's getting better. We'll let [head athletic trainer] Chris [Hanks] monitor it, and he'll be out here when he gets the OK to do that."

Wootton was one of eight players held out of Friday's workout, a group that included receiver Brandon Marshall (hip), cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), and offensive tackles Jonathan Scott (knee) and Jermon Bushrod (calf), as well as defensive ends Julius Peppers and Jamaal Anderson (knee).

Marshall, Tillman, and Peppers received a day of rest. Although Marshall continues to recover from offseason arthroscopic hip surgery, Trestman said the receiver's day off from practice Friday was a part of the plan.

"We were going to go three days on and one day off," Trestman said. "We did that the first week. We decided to go three days on, today off, so he could work tomorrow night, which will be a shorter practice. It's something I think he wanted to do as well as to practice tomorrow. Right now, we expect that he will. He's feeling good, and we'll continue to go forward with the plan."

Wootton, meanwhile, has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, especially his first two seasons. A third-year player, Wootton produced a breakout season in 2012, posting seven sacks and becoming a full-time starter. Wootton also stood out through the first week of training camp, and appeared to hold the advantage over Shea McClellin in the derby for the starting job opposite Peppers.

Wootton became the third defensive lineman to suffer an injury since the Bears arrived at camp Thursday. The Bears terminated the contract of veteran Turk McBride after he suffered a ruptured Achilles on Monday in the second practice in full pads of camp. Anderson also sat out Thursday.

The club also lost defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis at the start of camp when he decided to retire rather than report with the rest of his teammates.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears quickly filled their roster void created by the expected retirement of defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis on Thursday by signing veteran defensive end Jamaal Anderson.

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Ellis opts to retire after five seasons

July, 25, 2013
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis chose the Chicago Bears over other suitors, but now he's elected to retire after not reporting to training camp Wednesday, the team announced.

A first-round pick by the Saints' (No. 7 overall) in 2008, Ellis enjoyed moderate success during his first three seasons in New Orleans, but said the team's scheme over the last two years "didn't quite suit my talents." Ellis posted 12 sacks in his first three seasons, but over the past two, he's contributed only a half-sack overall.

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Kurt Warner, Will Smith, Sedrick EllisAP Photo/Patrick SemanskySedrick Ellis had 12 sacks in his first three seasons with the Saints but just half a sack the past two.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis chose the Chicago Bears over other suitors for a shot at returning to playing the type of football he became accustomed to in his first three years in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.

A first-round pick by the Saints' (No. 7 overall) in 2008, Ellis enjoyed moderate success during his first three seasons, but said the team's scheme over the last two years "didn't quite suit my talents." Ellis posted 12 sacks in his first three seasons, but over the past two, he's contributed only a half-sack overall.

"I believe the first three years went pretty well," Ellis said. "We had some coaching changes and some scheme changes as far as defense. It was kind of a little rotation of defensive coordinators that came in for a little bit. I believe the last two years the schemes that were played didn't quite suit my talents. I think that showed in production."

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Here are some observations from Day 1 of the Chicago Bears' three-day mandatory minicamp:

  • Bears offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer recently underwent hip surgery, which forced the veteran assistant coach to miss the on-field portion of Tuesday’s minicamp workout. However, Kromer was in the building during practice and did attend meetings. Kromer will not meet the media following the conclusion of minicamp on Thursday as had been previously scheduled.

  • The signing of defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis gives the Bears’ the maximum 90 players on their offseason roster. Although the team worked out three quarterbacks last week, including 2007 No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell, the Bears appear to content to enter training camp with just three quarterbacks. The feeling is that if the club added another veteran passer, it would come at the expense of No. 3 quarterback Matt Blanchard, a young player the Bears are committed to developing.

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    Bears, DT Ellis agree to deal

    June, 11, 2013
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    The Chicago Bears reached agreement on a one-year deal with former New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis on Tuesday.

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    Source: Sedrick Ellis to visit Bears

    June, 3, 2013
    PM ET
    Kevin KolbJason Miller/Getty ImagesSedrick Ellis was the No. 7 pick in the 2008 draft by the New Orleans Saints.
    Free agent defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis is scheduled to visit the Chicago Bears this week, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

    Schefter reports Ellis will also meet with the Detroit Lions after he visited the New England Patriots at the end of last week.

    Selected No. 7 overall in the 2008 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints, Ellis played five years for New Orleans, recording just 12.5 sacks.

    Ellis had 36 tackles in 16 games for the Saints last season, but zero sacks. Ellis is considered more of a three-technique pass-rushing defensive end as opposed to a run-stopper.

    The Bears have already made a handful of moves at tackle in the offseason; the club brought back defensive tackle Nate Collins and also signed DT Corvey Irvin, the 2009 third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers. The Bears briefly had veteran tackle Andre Fluellen on the roster, but he was released. There are also several undrafted rookie defensive tackles under contract with the Bears.

    Former Bears defensive tackle Amobi Okoye remains unsigned.