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Melton’s move pays major dividends

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 28, 2012 – 10:44 am

After Henry Melton was switched from running back to defensive end at the University of Texas, moving from end to defensive tackle with the Bears didn’t require much of an adjustment.

Melton actually embraced the move, primarily because it was the idea of longtime defensive coach Rod Marinelli, who had helped Warren Sapp develop into a Pro Bowl tackle with the Buccaneers.

“I just wanted to help the defense any way I could, and when he said I had the stuff that he looks for in a premier defensive tackle, I listened to him and just got to work,” Melton said. “If he said that he saw me as an elite defensive tackle … I believed in what he was saying.”

The move has been a fruitful one for the Bears and Melton, who this week was voted to his first Pro Bowl. Despite missing the last two games with a chest injury, the four-year veteran has recorded 32 tackles and six sacks, tied for third most among NFL defensive tackles.

Marinelli felt that Melton would excel inside because he possessed speed, quickness and instincts.

“He’s got so much speed and all those things,” Marinelli said. “And I just felt over time he’s going to get what I call ‘man strength’ just as he gets older and matures. He can run and the balance is excellent. When you get guys inside with that athletic ability, now your match-ups are great.”

Melton is grateful to Marinelli for helping him develop as a player and a person.

“He’s a great guy, a great coach,” Melton said. “We spend a lot of hours together working, working extremely hard trying to mold me into a better man and definitely a better football player. I’ve got a lot of love for him and hopefully we can keep it going.”

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Toub: Lovie a great coach, needs to stay

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 28, 2012 – 10:25 am

With Lovie Smith’s job security a popular topic in the media, special teams coordinator Dave Toub gave the Bears coach a ringing endorsement on Thursday.

“The one thing about Lovie, he’s always going to be the same, and that’s a great character trait as a head coach,” Toub said. “He doesn’t waver. If [something] is bothering him, he doesn’t let the players see it, he’s not letting the coaches see it.

“He’s been steady and we are very lucky, the Chicago Bears are very lucky to have Lovie Smith and we better realize that. Everybody better realize that.”

Hired as part of Smith’s original Bears staff in 2004, Toub enjoys their working relationship.

“He lets coaches coach,” Toub said. “He lets me do my job. He has total trust in everything that I do and as a coach you can’t ask for a better situation. Obviously I don’t call everything without going through him, but he lets us design our schemes and doesn’t second guess what we do. You can’t get a better situation as a coach.

“Lovie’s a great coach and he needs to stay here.”

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Briggs: Walters will fit in with rest of us

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 28, 2012 – 10:00 am

Free safety Anthony Walters is expected to make his first NFL start Sunday against the Lions, but linebacker Lance Briggs isn’t worried about the second-year pro’s lack of experience.

“Even though a lot of us haven’t seen Walters on the field on Sundays, we’ve seen him plenty on the practice field,” Briggs said. “The guy is capable, smart. He understands where he needs to fit, and that’s what’s most important. You have 10 other guys out there on the field that are very familiar with what we’re doing. He’ll feel comfortable. He’ll fit right in with the rest of us.”

Walters recorded two tackles in the second half of last Sunday’s win over the Cardinals after Chris Conte exited with a pulled hamstring. The 6-1, 207-pounder has appeared in all 15 games this season and is tied for third on the team with 10 special teams tackles.

Walters insists he isn’t nervous joining a defense that features veteran stars such as linebacker Lance Briggs, defensive end Julius Peppers and cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.

“I think those guys can help take some of that pressure away,” Walters said. “All I have to do is be where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there, and those guys make plays.”

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