Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Bears [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Ex-Bear Anderson returns to biggest stage

By Jeff Dickerson

INDIANAPOLIS -- It all happened so fast for ex-Chicago Bears' defensive end Mark Anderson.

Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson was unable to replicate the success of his rookie season in Chicago -- until he made the move to New England.

Anderson, selected in round No. 5 of the 2006 NFL draft, burst onto the scene as a rookie with a team-high 12 sacks, and was a valuable member of a defense that propelled the Bears to a berth in Super Bowl XLI.

Then it all began to unravel.

The Bears made Anderson a starter the following season. He lost his starting job then he lost his job period when the Bears released the pass-rusher in 2010. After a stint in Houston, Anderson found new life in New England, where he recorded 11 combined sacks for the AFC champion Patriots.

Surrounded by media at his own reserved section at Super Bowl XLVI media day Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Anderson admitted he took the initial trip to the Super Bowl for granted.

“Honestly it’s true," Anderson said. "After my first year in the league, I knew we would go back. I thought all you had to do was win a majority of the games in the regular season and then win out in the playoffs. We didn’t even make the playoffs my other four years with the Bears. This is my first year coming back to the playoffs, five years later."

Five years later, Anderson has re-made himself. A terrific situational pass-rusher early in career with the Bears, he now finds himself in playing in New England's hybrid 3-4 defense, as opposed to the 4-3 front used in Chicago.

The way Anderson sees it, the Patriots' defense affords him the opportunity to showcase his biggest football strength: athleticism.

"I really like the different packages and stuff, the freedom we have and different things I can do," Anderson said. "It's a fun defense. Once you understand what you need to do, you can really make a lot of plays and contribute a lot. I'm doing different packages at outside linebacker and defense end, so I just try to make the most of it at all times. If you're real athletic, you can rush out of the two-point or you can rush out of the three-point, you can do a lot of things. You can even drop back in coverage if you have to. It really can highlight your athleticism."