The Future At Linebacker Is Still Cloudy Even With D.J. Williams Out For The Season

The Future At Linebacker Is Still Cloudy Even With D.J. Williams Out For The Season

Veteran middle linebacker D.J. Williams was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Thursday with a neck injury. He becomes the fourth defensive starter to be placed on injured reserve along with Charles Tillman, Lamarr Houston and Lance Briggs.

The 32-year-old Miami product finishes his 2014 campaign with 10 starts in 12 games along with 73 tackles and two quarterback pressures alongside a disappointing linebacking core.

He signed one-year deals in consecutive off-seasons with Brian Urlacher not brought back after the 2012 season.

In total Williams appeared in just 18 games, making 14 starts, recording 112 tackles and two sacks.

He hasn’t made it through a full season since 2010 when he had a career-high 5.5 sacks with Denver, the team he played for from 2004-2012.

Williams will turn 33 in July and likely won’t be brought back to Chicago after two injury prone seasons. Second-year man Jon Bostic, first-year linebacker Shea McCellin and rookie Christian Jones will be in the starting lineup over the final three games.

Fifth-year Miami product Darryl Sharpton should see extensive time while second-year Rutgers product Khaseem Greene, rookie DeDe Lattimore could also see the field.

Outside of Bostic and Jones, the Bears don’t have much future potential on their current roster. Briggs is not expected back with the Bears next season, so Bostic could ultimately be in line for his spot at weakside.

But the Bears have no one currently who stands out in the middle.

McClellin has been wildly inconsistent in his first season as an NFL linebacker. Greene hasn’t done anything to secure a spot moving forward, while Sharpton has shown some skills, but injuries have kept him off the field.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is likely gone after two forgettable seasons in charge of this up-and-down Bears’ defense.

The future is cloudy for this linebacking core outside of Bostic and Jones. Even with them though, the Bears don’t have anyone who scares an offense.

These final three games could help Bears’ management see what they have at linebacker, but for the most part we’ve seen what this inconsistent unit can do. It’s not much.

A couple of names for Bears fans to keep an eye on for the 2015 NFL draft at middle linebacker are Miami’s Denzel Perryman, UCLA’s Eric Kendricks and Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney.

All three are projected to be selected in the first or second round according to Walter Football.

 

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