Bears Bourbo-notes for August 4th: From DE to LB for a few

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Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee hits the pad during a drill during training camp practice in Bourbonnais on August 3rd.

CHICAGO – The flip of the numbers can seem so little on a sheet of paper, a story or even a social media post. But for a defensive football player the switch of the 4 and 3 can impact an entire defense.

That’s the case for the returning Bears defenders who now have the 3 come in from the 4 when coaches describe their new defense this season.

Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense-which four linebackers take the field instead of three like last season-is meant to put some more speed on the field and was key to his successful 49ers defenses the past few seasons.

It does mean some adjustments for some players especially those defensive ends who no longer go down in a three-point stance. Willie Young is well aware of that.

“No! No not even close,” said Young when asked if playing linebacker was the same as the defensive end. “There were two things I had to worry about at defensive end: Keying the ball and getting a strength call from a linebacker. That ain’t so much the case no more.

“I’ve got to give a call, take a call, listen for a call and watch out for a call and also key the ball.”

Young said that he didn’t know anything about linebacker so he’s been studying every day along with rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon suffered late in the 2014 season. At least he knows he’s not alone.

Jared Allen will be playing the outside linebacker spot for the first time in his career but he’s not quite as worried about the move.

“I’m a huge believer that the Lord does things at the right time and the right place. Three years ago if you had tried to make me switch a position I would have quit. Honestly because I was a knucklehead ” said Allen. “But coming off a year which I dealt with injuries and being sick and my production numbers were down it kind of clears you mind.

“Like I said to everyone this game will humble you and however it does it, it will humble you. I got a nice big slice of humble pie last year and you look at a new opportunity as just that, a new opportunity. So that’s the way I’m approaching it.”

Houston Has Fewer Problems

If there is one person on the Bears who could talk about being humbled in the 2014 season as he makes the transition to linebacker it’s Lamarr Houston.

He lost most of last season to a torn ACL suffered while celebrating a sack late against the Patriots when the Bears were getting blown out.

The forgettable moment cost him the season and made him the subject of a few jokes as he rehabbed from the series injury.

“It’s a day-to-day process. Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said Houston of the rehab process. “They want to take it slow, I’ll take it slow with them. But I’m prepared to do whatever it is that they need me to do because I’m 100 percent.”

In fact, Houston says he might even been better before he got injured thanks to the surgery. He’s been able to participate in the majority of training camp workouts thus far as he enters his sixth season in the NFL.

“I’m actually a lot better than I was before the surgery. Thank god for technology and his blessings and prayers,” said Houston. “I’ve done a lot of great rehab and I have great physical therapists and doctors to get me to where I was before if not better.”

It Really Was Just Business

In a new era of Bears football littered with question marks, the biggest surrounded them.

Matt Forte didn’t show up to voluntary workouts in April and May. Martellus Bennett wasn’t there either. Both were dealing with potential contract issues and were-at least for a bit-considered questionable for arrival to training camp.

But five practice have come and then gone. For every one of them, Forte and Bennett have been there.

Surprised? Not really. Frankly Forte wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about even though he is entering the final season of his contract and hoped for an extension before the season began.

“It’s not weird. It’s my eighth time,” said Forte when asked if it was unusual to start camp in the final year of his contract. “Everything is kind of the same. When you’re out there you don’t really think about it being the last year of your contract.

“I’ve been here so long it still feels like I’m going to be here next year.”

Bennett was the same after skipping the voluntary workouts in the spring but opting to come back for the mandatory ones in June. After a season in which he had career-highs in receptions (90), yards (916) and touchdowns (6) Bennett was hoping for a restructuring of his contract now that his stock has risen.

He didn’t get it but it didn’t wipe a smile off his face during his first meeting with the media this weekend.

“It’s business. I have no hard feelings against anybody. Some business deals go the way you want. I had several business deals this offseason that worked and didn’t work out,” said Bennett. “For me it was just another business deal. It’s just the way it is. Some deals get done. Some don’t.

“Still got to come to work and get the job done. So I’m really just trying to build and grow as a player.”

He proved it on Monday when he made it all the way through practice despite being what John Fox described as “Sick to his stomach” for most of the workout.

Stat of The Day

3 – The number of times a coach has started their first Bears training camp at Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais. The team moved camp to central Illinois before the 2002 season under head coach Dick Jauron. Lovie Smith (2004) and Marc Trestman (2013) started their tenures in Bourbonnais with neither team making the playoffs (5-11 under Smith, 8-8 under Trestman).

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