Found September 04, 2012 on Bears Backer:

One of the biggest losses from the off-season for the Bears was when Amobi Okoye opted to leave Chicago via free agency for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Okoye’s stint was short lived in Tampa following a knee scope that never allowed him to get on the field during the preseason.  First year Bucs coach, Greg Schiano, was not happy with Okoye’s inability to get on the field stating:

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to go out and earn a spot,” Schiano had told the Tampa Bay Times.

The Buccaneers loss immediately becomes the Bears gain.

When the Bears did not re-sign Okoye this off-season a void was left in a defensive tackle rotation that sorely lacked depth.  Henry Melton, Matt Toeaina, and Stephen Paea were the three locks at defensive tackle coming into camp with the Bears bringing along Nate Collins, DeMario Pressley, Brian Price, and John McCargo, among others, to vie for a spot in the rotation.

The Bears released Price, who was traded to Chicago from Tampa earlier in camp, along with Pressley and McCargo for simply not producing when given the opportunity.  Collins is currently on the reserve/suspend list for one game for violating the NFL’s drug policy, but is expected to join the rotation following his suspension.

Last season in Chicago, Okoye played in all 16 games, starting one, and finishing the season with four sacks, the second highest total of his young career.  Despite entering his sixth season in the league, Okoye is still just 25 years old,giving the Bears one of the youngest defensive tackle cores in the NFL with the average age of Melton, Toeaina, Paea, Okoye, and Collins at 25.

Okoye was consider by many to be a bust in Houston after he was drafted tenth overall in the 2007 draft at the age of 19.  He was viewed as a tremendous talent at the position, combining speed with a nose for the football.  His rookie season he collected four sacks in his first four games but finished his rookie season with just five and half sacks and ultimately ending his tenure in Houston with just 11 sacks.

Not having to be “the guy” in Chicago helped take some of the pressure off of Okoye.  Expectations weigh heavily on  young players, especially those who enter the league at 19.  By not having a multitude of expectations placed on him, Okoye was able to have one of his most productive seasons since his rookie year.

Okoye’s best work in the rotation was during third down last when he was allowed free range to get to the quarterback.  Okoye’s four sacks were second only to Melton’s seven amongst the defensive tackles and many would argue that Okoye was more effective at the three-technique towards the end of the season than Melton was.

Okoye will likely be rusty given the fact that he did not suit up in the preseason.  The Bears currently list him third on the depth chart at the three-technique behind Melton and Paea, but once he regains his role in the rotation, Okoye helps bolster a position that before this week was uncertain with exactly what they had.

Matt Eurich is a contributor to Follow Bears Backer on Facebook andTwitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.



Former Bucs player questions Schiano's comments

Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye lashed out at Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano after the free agent’s signing was announced Monday by the Chicago Bears. Okoye took exception to Schiano saying Okoye, a six-year veteran, wasn’t progressing after arthroscopic knee surgery in June, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Okoye wasn’t able to practice or play much during preseason. The Buccaneers...

Urlacher: Knee will never be the same

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher plans to be on the field for the team's season opener, but told a reporter that his wonky knee will never be the same.

Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher will play season opener

Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher insist that he’ll be on the field when the team opens it season against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Ulacher stated, “I’m playing, that’s a done deal” He also said that his left knee will “never be the same again”. The 12-year All-Pro sprained his MCL during the Bears season finale against the Minnesota Vikings last season. He...

Okoye's Return Will Strengthen Defensive Tackle Rotation

One of the biggest losses from the off-season for the Bears was when Amobi Okoye opted to leave Chicago via free agency for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Okoye's stint was short lived in Tampa following a knee scope that never allowed him to get on the field during the preseason.  First year Bucs coach, Greg Schiano, was not happy with Okoye's inability to get on the field...

Bears release DT Price

One month after the Chicago Bears traded for defensive tackle Brian Price, the team waived him Monday. Price, obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in July for a 2013 seventh-round draft pick, failed to make an impression in preseason. The former second-round draft pick battled injuries and also endured his sister passing away during the offseason. The move cleared a roster...

Preview: Bears looking for balance

The Chicago Bears are a tale of two sides. One side, the offense, despite losing both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte last season, are a young group with talent at the skill positions and a questionable offensive line. They will have many more seasons to progress to the point where they can keep up with NFC North powerhouses Green Bay and Detroit. Jay Cutler is a better quarterback...

Brian Urlacher Says He Is Playing Sunday, Despite Knee Injury

I will believe it when I see it. Urlacher knees have been traveling to Odenville a lot, so I would be a little surprised to see him on field. Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher expects to start Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, despite reportedly having undergone multiple procedures on his left knee that forced [...] [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website...

Bears vs. Colts Wednesday Injury Report

Hot News for LB Brian Urlacher

McManis ready for next challenge

Cornerback Sherrick McManis, whom the Bears acquired for FB Tyler Clutts in a trade with the Houston Texans last week, says it’s nice to be in a place where he feels wanted.
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.