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."
Projected to play the three-technique spot in Chicago's 4-3 front, Ellis will be used more as a penetrator than a mere run-plugger. That small detail made all the difference in Ellis making the decision to sign with the Bears over other teams he visited such as the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots.
"Yeah, that was part of the reason I picked Chicago. But mainly it was because of the way that I know their defensive line plays. They allow their guys to do what defensive linemen are supposed to do. That's rush the passer, get sacks and put pressure on the quarterback while playing the run on the way. So I'm excited to be a part of a scheme that does that. I haven't had the chance to do that the last couple of years. I'm glad to be back on a team that I know runs a solid (4-3) the way they used to run the (4-3). I'm excited to have a chance to play in a defense like that again."
The Bears plan to plug in Ellis in the rotation behind starter Henry Melton, initially. But there's a chance Ellis could wind up playing the nose tackle position in a pinch. He's played both positions in the past.
Bears coach Marc Trestman likes the depth added to the position with the signing of Ellis, but the coach is also pleased that the new defensive tackle ratchets up the competition along the interior of the defensive line.
"Just talking to (general manager) Phil (Emery) and the scouts, he gives us certainly some more-than-needed depth inside playing the three-technique (which) will allow for us to grow," Trestman said. "We've created even a more competitive environment on our football team with his addition. Just talking to him, he's ready to go and to improve in his career."
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker pointed to Ellis' versatility in explaining why the defensive tackle appealed to the team.
"We feel like he can give us some stoutness inside, and also give us some rush inside," Tucker said. "He'll have an opportunity to come in here, prove what he can do and compete. That's what we're looking for."
Ellis, meanwhile, looks to Oct. 4 when he'll have the opportunity -- provided he makes Chicago's roster -- to face his former team. The Saints traded up in the draft to select Ellis in 2008, but he never lived up to his high billing, and he struggled in 2011 and '12.
In April, New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis said Ellis, who at 27 years old should be entering the prime of his career, wouldn't be a part of the club's 2013 plans.
"I think you know which games are circled on the calendar," Ellis said, laughing.