The Bears’ biggest off-season addition will make his debut with the team Thursday against the Jaguars.
After sitting out last week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles a few days after his wife gave birth, new defensive end Jared Allen will see action Thursday night. How much he plays is in doubt, but the long-time veteran is not likely to play too much. His playing time will serve two purposes, as a means to get him closer to regular season playing shape, and a quick opportunity to jell with his new teammates.
I’m excited to see Allen and the revamped defensive line play together and see just how much pressure they can apply on Jaguars quarterbacks. It goes without saying that the defense was atrocious last year, so any kind of marked improvement will seem like a huge leap. Defense all starts up front with the line, so those guys will have to be up to the challenge.
I’m also interested in seeing two pairs of players take their next steps. Starting tackles Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea looked good together in collapsing the middle of the opposing offensive line. They applied some nice pressure on quarterback Nick Foles and got him out of his comfort zone. I’d also like to see the continue development of rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. Whether either of these guys can push for regular playing time in the defensive tackle rotation is a big question.
Finally, there’s Nate Collins to consider. Collins when healthy has been one of the Bears’ more effective pass rushers. In a muddled depth chart, though, Collins has to battle for playing time and a spot on the final roster.