By Bryan Dietzler
In somewhat of a surprising move by the Bears this past week, Chicago cut defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff. There was a statement by reporters that said that Ratliff showed up to practice in a state where he was not prepared to practice.
He then had an altercation with General Manager Ryan Pace and following that altercation, he was escorted from the building. Shortly afterwards the Bears stated that they released Ratliff and signed former Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick Ziggy Hood.
What is strange about this is that the Bears, especially coach John Fox, had a lot of praise for Ratliff in the preseason prior to his getting suspended for three games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
They considered him one of the top defenders on their team and thought of him as one of the most important parts of their defense. Whatever he did, it must have been bad enough for them to get rid of him and leave themselves without one of their best defenders. He is gone now and there is nothing much more the Bears or anyone else can do about it.
The departure of Ratliff leaves a hole in the Bears defensive line that they need to fill. The current list of defensive linemen on their roster includes Hood, Will Sutton, Eddie Goldman, Jarvis Jenkins, Bruce Gaston and Mitch Unrein.
The Bears have suffered an injury or two at the position that has landed a couple guys on injured reserve so the Bears are thin at the position and they are thin on talent. They have lost their best defensive lineman and don’t have much left to show for it.
Both Gaston and Unrein are relatively new to the league and don’t have a lot of playing time under their belt. They have gotten in on some snaps this season but don’t have the experience that some of the others have and are relatively green. If they aren’t inactive, look for them to be part of the rotation on the defensive line as the rest of the season goes on and see much more playing time then they have seen these past few weeks.
Hood is an interesting option for the Bears now that he has been brought on board. Hood, a former first round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was signed to a big free agent contract with the Jaguars a couple seasons ago but never panned out in Jacksonville so he was released.
He is a big bodied defensive tackle that could fill in nicely for Ratliff if he can stay healthy and get back to the way that he was playing a few years ago. Look for him to get some reps on the defensive line right away and if he can get back to the way he played before, eventually become a starter.
Sutton suffered an elbow injury several weeks ago and has been out of the lineup for the most part ever since. It appears as if he is finally getting back to good health now and could be inserted in the lineup for the Bears over the next few weeks getting more playing time.
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