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Chicago Bears 2014 Position Battles: Defensive Tackle

We'll start our defensive position battles look at the Chicago Bears with their D-Line, in particular the defensive tackles. Would you put Stephen Paea on the bubble this off season?

Jonathan Daniel

Before Ray Rice got into trouble for beating up women he was struggling though a terrible 2013 season. He averaged a paltry 3.08 yards per carry and he only cracked the 100 yard mark once last year. Last November Rice went off for 131 yards and 5.24 yards per carry against the Chicago Bears.

Running back Brandon Jacobs hadn't been very good since 2010, but the New York Giants needed a running back last year, so they took a flier on Jacobs. He only rushed for 238 yards in seven games, but 106 of that came against the Bears on a Thursday Nighter.

The Bears' run D was horrendous last year and it all started up front. They had a DT retire before training camp, lost a d-lineman during camp to a season ending injury, then lost two defensive tackles to IR during the season. Another DT labored through the season with a toe injury.

Chicago's defensive tackles must show up in a big way in 2014 to help turn the defense around.

Roster Locks

Stephen Paea, the aforementioned injured-toe DT, will need to play up to his potential in his contract year. He's quick, he's strong, he's capable to playing both the nose and the three tech, and he should feel the pressure that GM Phil Emery is putting on him.

That pressure was applied when Emery drafted Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, two different types of DTs, but two that should push hard for playing time all season long. Sutton is getting some playing time with the ones already so that's good for the young DT.

Jeremiah Ratliff will most likely start at the three technique, but he can also play the nose. Ratliff brings leadership and a nasty demeanor to the defense, and now that he's healthy, he should bring some solid production.

A good bet to make it

The Bears have talked about carrying 10 defensive linemen, with a breakdown of six defensive ends and 4 DTs as a possibility. If the Bears elect to bring 6 DEs that could leave Nate Collins on the outside looking in. He's had a solid early camp so he's making it hard on the coaches. I can't see the Bears cutting ties with Collins if he's able to regain his 2013 form.

On the bubble

With the depth the Bears have at DT this off season, undrafted free agents Brandon Dunn and Lee Pegues will be trying to land a job on the practice squad.

What are your thoughts on the DT situation in Chicago this season?