Throughout most of the off-season, training camp and pre-season games one of the most pressing questions surrounded the defensive tackle depth. The Bears had a hole that needed to be filled with the loss of Amobi Okoye in free agency. To fill that hole the Bears signed defensive tackle Nate Collins from the Jacksonville Jaguars to compete for the fourth DT spot. Collins didn't disappoint, in fact he was extremely strong throughout training camp and during pre-season games.
On Sunday against the Carolina Panthers Collins earned his first playing time and played so well that he likely should keep his spot in the active game day rotation. Collins racked up three tackles and a couple QB pressures proving why he was so highly regarded throughout camp.
According to ProFootballFocus Collins graded out with a plus-5.4 rating on the afternoon, which was the second highest rating among Bears players on the day. Collins is an extremely versatile DT showing the ability to play either the nose or the 3-technique tackle spot. He has good strength and equal quickness to his game which makes him valuable in the Bears system.
In the game against the Panthers you could see him playing at a high level. Collins was strong at the point of attack, excellent in pursuit and played well with leverage. He used his hands well fighting off blocks, powering through double teams. Overall Collins was extremely active throughout the game and proved that he should likely remain a game day active.
Collins was active in place of Amobi Okoye who has struggled throughout the season. Okoye has only one sack on the season and has only three QB pressures on the season. In comparison to last season, Okoye has been a monumental disappointment in his second season with the Bears.
Okoye's struggles combined with Collins stand out game debut should mean that Collins is active in each game going forward. Collins had played like the third best DT throughout training camp and should not have been benched in the first place. Now that he's earned his shot and stood out there's no reason to think that he can't be a long term fixture on the Bears defensive line.