Updated look at Bears interior defensive line depth after Mike Pennel signing:

The Chicago Bears added more depth along the interior of the defensive line with the signing of nose tackle Mike Pennel on Monday night.

Pennel is back for his second stint in Chicago after being on the roster last training camp. He landed on injured reserve and was released in late August. Now, he’s reunited with general manager Ryan Poles, who knew Pennel from his time with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Head coach Matt Eberflus explained there will be a rotation along the defensive line this season. Pennel is a welcome addition to the roster, where he’ll be battling Khyiris Tonga for the starting nose tackle job.

Following the signing of Pennel, here’s a look at the Bears’ interior defensive line depth:

Justin Jones:

AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh:

Justin Jones was signed in place of Larry Ogunjobi, who failed to pass his physical and was not signed by the team. Jones is coming off an impressive season where he set career highs in tackles (37), sacks (3.0) and QB hits (5). While Jones is a downgrade from Ogunjobi, he’s a more affordable option and projects to serve as a solid three-technique.

Khyiris Tonga:

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports:

Khyiris Tonga, a seventh-round pick in 2021, is coming off an encouraging rookie season, where he saw significant time in place of an injured Eddie Goldman and held his own. Tonga showed he can be a powerful run stopper in the middle of the defensive line, and his potential moving forward is exciting. Tonga is the current top option at the nose tackle spot.

Mario Edwards:

AP Photo / Bruce Kluckhohn:

Mario Edwards signed a three-year extension with the Bears last offseason, and he’s been a key reserve along the defensive line. Edwards should have some versatility on the Bears defensive line with the ability to play as a 3-technique, where he would back up Jones, or coming off the edge. He’ll be a key rotational player for Chicago as they transition to a 4-3 defense.

Angelo Blackson:

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports:

Angelo Blackson was signed last offseason to serve as depth along the interior of the defensive line, but he found himself thrust into more of a starting role due to injuries to Akiem Hicks. Blackson was solid all season and saw a spike in production near the end of the season. He’s a reliable rotational player who could certainly factor into the plans for 2022.

Mike Pennel:

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports:

Mike Pennel is back for his second stint with the Bears. He signed with Chicago last June before landing on injured reserve and being released in late August. Pennel adds some needed depth at the nose tackle position, where he’ll serve as competition for the young Tonga or at least serve as a reliable reserve. He’s another former Chiefs player brought in by new GM Ryan Poles.

LaCale London:

AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh:

LaCale London spent the majority of the 2021 season on the practice squad. He appeared in just one game last season – a Week 15 contest against the Vikings when Chicago was ravaged by COVID-19. At this point, London is nothing more than a practice squad player who does not appear poised to contribute in 2022.

Auzoyah Alufohai:

AP Photo / Matt Patterson:

Auzoyah Alufohai split his 2021 season on the Bears and Packers practice squads. He signed with Chicago on Sept. 1 and was released shortly after. Then in November, he joined Green Bay’s practice squad for a couple of weeks before being released on Nov. 16. He rejoined the Bears practice squad on Dec. 16 before signing a reserve / futures contract with Chicago on Jan. 11. Alufohai is nothing more than a practice squad player who does not appear likely to factor into Chicago’s plans.

Micah Dew-Treadway:

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports:

The Bears signed undrafted rookie Micah Dew-Treadway shortly after the NFL Draft, adding more depth along the interior of the defensive line. At this point, Dew-Treadway is a developmental prospect who’s a training camp body, and he’ll face an uphill battle to earn a roster spot. He’s a candidate for the practice squad.

[listicle id=508869]

1:

1:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.