Idonije seeks improvement, more QB sacks
|Bears defensive end Israel Idonije (right) works with defensive end Corey Wootton during training camp on Sunday at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. (AP)|
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BOURBONNAIS – Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije said Sunday that he failed to hit opposing quarterbacks too many times during an up-and-down season in 2011.
This season, Idonije plans to finish all of those plays that he started a year ago.
“I left a lot of plays on the field last year – literally just a step off,” said Idonije, who took part in pass-rushing drills during Day 4 of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. “Being able to capitalize on those plays, that’s a game changer. That’s really, for me, the next step.
“I know the defense. I know how to read an offense. Now it’s just when I have the opportunity to make those plays, I’ve got to finish them.”
Idonije registered five sacks last season after having eight in 2010, which was his first season as a full-time starter.
To retain his starting job, the 31-year-old Idonije will have to hold off rookie first-round pick Shea McClellin.
“Every year I’ve been here, they’ve brought in guys,” Idonije said. “So, my mindset is the same. Last year, the year before, every year, I continue to work to get better.”
Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi enjoyed another strong performance during pass-rushing drills as he stayed in front of Idonije on several plays.
Carimi, 24, said he had more room for improvement in the coming days and weeks.
He had not practiced in pads since about halfway through last season, when a lingering knee injury forced him to go on injured reserve and have surgery.
“I knew there was going to be some rust,” Carimi said. “I knew that it wasn’t going to be exactly where I left off at, but I think there were some good, positive notes. I don’t think I’m that far off the mark where it will be pretty easy to get back.”
Tight end Evan Rodriguez struggled badly with his footwork during off-season minicamp as the Bears’ fourth-round pick out of Temple.
Much has changed in the past 6 weeks.
Rodriguez has enjoyed several strong practices in the first week of training camp, catching passes across the middle and down the seam during full-team drills.
“I’m a lot more comfortable now,” Rodriguez said. “Minicamp was my first time being out there with the vets, so I really didn’t know what to expect. That really prepared me well for training camp.”
Defensive end Julius Peppers rested during most of Sunday’s practice. The Bears typically give breaks to veteran players throughout camp. … Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (ankle) returned to practice after sitting out Saturday’s session as a precaution.
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