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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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Melton enjoying view from the top

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 15, 2012 – 1:55 pm

When the NFL released fan balloting results for the Pro Bowl Wednesday, Henry Melton was happy to see that he’s currently the leading vote-getter among NFC defensive tackles.

“I saw that on Twitter,” Melton said. “I got a little excited like a little kid. But you can’t let it go to your head and you can’t get too excited about it. It’s still early and there are a lot of games left to be played.”

After recording a career-high seven sacks last season in his first full year as a starter, Melton has continued to make impact plays while performing with more consistency in 2012. He has registered five sacks and two forced fumbles while compiling 23 tackles, the most by a Bears defensive lineman.

“It’s really just another year underneath my belt and getting with my coaches and watching how the veterans prepare and take the season,” Melton said. “It’s been eye-opening to see where I’ve come from, and it’s just a great feeling at the moment.”

As a running back at Texas, Melton rushed for 432 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman, helping the Longhorns win the national championship. He was later moved to the defensive line as a junior.

“You’ve got to have quick feet playing running back, just like it showed last week where they’re cutting and diving at your legs and you’ve got to stay on your feet to make a play,” Melton said. “That’s where it’s really helped me.”

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Melton seeking more consistency

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 10, 2012 – 5:27 pm

Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton charged out of the starting gate with two sacks in Sunday’s season-opening rout of the Indianapolis Colts.

Melton also recorded two sacks in last year’s Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but then mustered only one sack in the next seven games. This season the 2009 fourth-round draft pick from Texas is determined to string together a series of productive outings.

“That is the thing I am going to try to work on this year, to keep going back-to-back instead of one amazing game and then kind of falling off and then a good game and then falling off,” Melton said. “I am going to try to work on my consistency.”

Melton heated up late last season, compiling four sacks in a five-game stretch to finish with a career-high seven sacks, tied for third most among NFL defensive tackles.

“I think he did enough good things last year,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday at Halas Hall. “We’ve been talking about Henry for a long time. Now we’re just judging him on this year. He played one regular season game and he played outstanding football.

“I just see him doing the same each week, no more than that. We’re going to keep taking it to the practice field and getting him better. He is a coachable guy. He does everything you ask him to do. There’s reason to think that just with maturity he’ll make that next step.”

Just like last year, Melton hopes to record at least 10 sacks this season.

“That’s just a personal goal,” he said. “But I know if I get double digits, then as a defense it’s really thriving off of me, and I want to win.”

Melton proved that he can do more than sack the quarterback Sunday when he knifed into the Colts backfield and dropped running back Donald Brown for a four-yard loss in the first quarter.

“A lot of people kind of just have me as a one-dimensional player that all I can really do is pass rush,” Melton said. “I want to be more than that. That is the first key; really getting off the ball. If you’re really getting off the ball on the run it’s going to translate in your pass rush.”

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