Friday, July 25, 2014
Rookie DTs bonding like Long, Mills
By Michael C. Wright
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Offensive linemen Kyle Long and Jordan Mills bonded almost immediately as rookies in 2013, and a similar development seems to be afoot at training camp with rookie defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton.
“As soon as we got in here together, we kind of cliqued up and we’ve been by each other every day,” Ferguson said. “Our rooms are right next door to each other. He was a great pass-rusher in college, won defensive player of the year two times in a row. I looked up to him a little bit as far as pass-rushing skills. I felt like he was a great player. “
Interestingly, the duo wants to incorporate one another’s strengths into their own games. Looking to plug leaks in the league’s worst rushing defense (161.4 yards per game) from 2013, the Bears drafted Ferguson and Sutton in the second and third rounds, respectively.
Ferguson stuffs the run. Sutton gets after the quarterback.
Ferguson wants to improve as a pass-rusher, and Sutton hopes to hone his skills against the run.
“I feel like our games are two different styles,” Ferguson said. “I’m more of a run-stopper trying to develop and get better on my pass-rushing. He’s more of a pass-rusher trying to develop more against the run.”
At Arizona State, Sutton won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year two years in a row, becoming just the second player in the history of the conference to win the award twice. Sutton racked up 20.5 career sacks in college.
Ferguson, meanwhile, started just 12 games at LSU, where he notched only one sack before declaring for the draft after his junior season.
Despite those meager numbers, Bears general manager Phil Emery felt confident in his decision to draft Ferguson. Prior to making the pick, Emery watched tape of Ferguson in games against Alabama, Mississippi State, Mississippi and Georgia to confirm his belief in the defensive tackle’s worth. In those games, Emery said, “nobody could run the ball against him inside at all.”
It was clear, though, that Ferguson’s pass-rushing skills needed work.
That’s part of why Ferguson took a yoga class in the offseason to improve his flexibility, which in turn, should help with movement skills as a pass-rusher. Ferguson said he noticed the difference Friday in his first training camp practice as a pro.
“I felt like my flexibility was a lot better today,” Ferguson said. “I’m just trying to take it one play at a time, one day at a time.”