BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — In a sport known for its slew of injuries, the Bears actually began training camp at full health, with all 90 players dressed for the first practice on Friday, though one starter was missing from the full team drills early on.
DT Henry Melton, who signed an $8.45 million franchise tender for the season, took a little time before getting into the action. Nate Collins ran with the first-team defensive line next to Stephen Paea before Melton got a few reps in.
“I was trying to get over a little sickness I had, so they were taking care of me,” Melton said about his early absence. When asked if it was the flu or food poisoning, Melton laughed. “A little bit of both.”
Melton discussed what Collins, who will be vying to be the top reserve defensive tackle, brings to the defense when he's on the field.
"Nate has a little quickness to him, he’s got a little burst. He’s pretty much relentless. It’s just a little change-up if I go down."
An impressive interior pass rusher who notched six sacks last season, Melton eventually made his presence felt when he got on the field, knocking down two passes, something he knows ticks off his quarterback.
“I always try to make Cutler mad,” Melton said. “He doesn’t like when I do that. Neither does the O-line, they want to throw me down when I do.”
Melton reiterated that the defense is very much the same under new coordinator Mel Tucker. “Mel might mix up some things; he might add his own twists on some things, but it’s pretty much the same,” he said.