The Chicago Bears are banking on Mark Anderson being as good or better than Alex Brown was for them this season.
They’ll be using two new starting defensive ends after breaking the bank to sign Julius Peppers and then releasing Brown when it became evident general manager Jerry Angelo was not going to be able to trade him. Adewale Ogunleye, who started opposite Brown for much of the last six seasons, left as an unrestricted free agent.
Like it or not, Anderson is going to be judged against Brown, who now has a starting job with the New Orleans Saints. Anderson burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2006 when he made 12 sacks in a reserve role as the Bears went to Super Bowl XLI. Anderson was promoted over Brown to a starting spot the following year and flopped. He had played primarily in pass-rushing situations as a rookie and in a starting role he was ineffective. Three years later, he’ll get the chance to start again.
The move to let go Brown, who was a fourth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2002, wasn’t a popular one.
“When I first heard it, I was pissed," Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs told Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. “I was hurt. I thought bringing in Peppers was one of the greatest moves that the Bears had made, and then you get rid of you know, the other side. I mean, I just saw Alex having the highest sack total he's ever had. But when I sat down and thought about it for a while, I understand the move. I don't like it, but I understand the move.”
Players are really not going to like the move if Anderson cannot elevate his game. The pressure will be on him because the Bears don’t have many other options. Israel Idonije will figure in the mix but he’s a role player and will probably be at left end in the rotation. If Anderson has a big season – and he should playing opposite Peppers – then players won’t be as pissed.
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