Bears' Young making the most of his playing time

In just his second game with the Bears, defensive end Willie Young accomplished something he didn't in his first four NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions - he had 2 sacks in the same game.

In just two games with the Bears, Young has 3 sacks, as many as he has had in any previous season.

And, oh by the way, Young isn't even a starter.

The Bears intended for the 6-foot-4, 251-pounder to be their No. 1 right end, the premier pass-rush position in most defenses, when he signed three-year, $9 million contract with $3.95 million guaranteed. But 13 days later, Bears general manager Phil Emery jumped at the opportunity to snag Jared Allen and, combined with the earlier free-agency addition of former Oakland Raider Lamarr Houston, that left the Bears with three starters for two DE spots.

"We brought him in to be our starting defensive end, and then Jared came in, (so) we're rotating Willie around, and it's going to help us throughout the season," coach Marc Trestman said. "We've got three guys that we can move around like that."

Because the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Houston has the size and strength to slide inside in passing situations, it allows Young to get snaps at both end positions. Wherever he lines up, Young brings energy and tenacity to the field.

"Willie is a high-motored guy," Trestman said. "He loves to play the game. You see that in the way he plays, and he comes to work every day with a smile on his face. He loves football and to see it transcend

into the games obviously is tremendously exciting."

Especially when Young bringing down Colin Kaepernick twice on the 49ers' final possession to help preserve a 28-20 upset victory on the road.

"I just had a vision coming off of the ball," Young said. "I want to take advantage of my opportunities. We had guys getting doubled on the inside, which left me 1-on-1. It's my job to win that 1-on-1 matchup every time I get it."

With Allen, whose 128½ sacks are the most in the NFL since 2004, on the field at the same time, Young could see a lot of 1-on-1 opportunities.

"He's doing great," Allen said. "He's taking advantage of it over there. I'm loving it."

Young got just 21 snaps in the season opener but had the Bears' only sack. He then earned twice as many snaps in Week 2.

Since Allen plays as many snaps as any D-lineman in the game, and Houston is one of the game's best run-stoppers among ends, playing time is at a premium, but the Bears will find a way to get Young on the field.

In the long run, a rotation with little drop-off in talent among all three members benefits everyone.

"We're getting to a place where we think we're going to have a pretty good rotation with the three guys," Trestman said. "(That's) not only going to allow them to have their legs as the season progresses, but they can have a little opportunity to rest at some point in time during the course of a game.

"So longevity for our players, as well as being able to utilize their strengths, that's a good thing. We have moved (Young) up, we're going to try and divide it up as much as we can to rotate these guys around so they can be at their best when they're playing."

Allen was effusive in his praise of Young after the Niners game and joked that his teammate might run away with the team sack title.

"He's matured so much just as a player and a pass rusher," Allen said. "It's good to see him have success over there. I better pick my pace up because the guy is starting to run away with things. But really, if he keeps playing like that we'll be just fine."

Young believes they'll be all that and more. Rather than being concerned with his own playing time, the former seventh-round draft pick is focused on the team, as Trestman has pointed out more than once. When Young was asked about the edge that the defense played with against the 49ers, he spoke for a group in which seven of the 10 D-linemen are new this year.

"We are built that way," Young said of the new attitude. "These are the kind of guys the coaches brought in, and that is the kind of guys we are going to be. None of us have the history of being pushovers or push-arounds.

"We're gonna ball until we fall."

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In just two games, fourth-year defensive end Willie Young has tied his career high in sacks with 3. Associated Press
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