PRO FOOTBALL| BEARS CAMP

Bears' veteran Henry Melton looks to build new 'friendships' on defensive line

2013-07-26T19:45:00Z 2013-07-27T15:00:06Z Bears' veteran Henry Melton looks to build new 'friendships' on defensive lineAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
July 26, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

BOURBONNAIS | Defensive tackle Henry Melton feels like the guy who comes to work and half his office has been downsized. It's hard talking to an empty desk.

But that's the situation with these 2013 Bears. They have an entirely new coaching staff and many of Melton's defensive buddies have hit the road.

But first, there's the matter of getting used to coach Marc Trestman, who replaced Lovie Smith.

"We're still working. Today, I was like 'Where we going?' and we were just going to stretch," Melton said Friday at the opening of training camp. "It's gonna take a little more time when you're used to doing the same thing four years in a row."

The frenetic Marc Trestman established himself as a hands-on coach the day he was hired.

"I like what he's doing. He's very offensive-minded but I'm excited," said Melton, to whom the Bears gave the franchise tag this season. He insists he needs no additional motivation despite changes within his unit.

"You notice (Brian) Urlacher not being here in the locker room, mostly, but also in the huddle," Melton added. "But it's not just him.

"We're missing Izzy (Israel Idonije). Matt Toeaina was a good friend on the defensive line. (Nick) Roach, too. We had a lot of camaraderie there."

Melton said linebacker Lance Briggs, whom he called Urlacher's long-time "wing man," now faces his biggest challenge having to call plays.

"It's like Robin coming in and taking over for Batman," Melton said. "It'll definitely be different, but I think he can do it."

Trestman's approach to training camp is unlike anything these Bears players had experienced as pros.

Practice sessions are run in bang-bang fashion, by design, and might resemble offensive chaos to the casual observer.

Not so.

"What we're trying to do essentially is slow everything down on Sunday," Trestman explained. "The faster we go (at practice) and the more chaotic we can make it for them, the easier things are going to be on Sunday.

"If we can create an environment here of being more game-like, we hope they'll play better and we believe they will. So that's the reason for it."

Melton says there's the necessary leadership to fill those aforementioned holes on defense.

"We have a ton of talented guys and Pro Bowlers. It doesn't fall on one guy," he said. "We're just gonna have to pick each other up."

The core of the defense is getting older, particularly Briggs, Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman. That is certain to be brought up again if the Bears struggle.

"If you're still playing at a high level, what's the problem?" Melton said. "And I plan to be ballin'."

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