Bears minicamp offers first look at linebackers

Updated 4/27/2015 6:02 PM

No final decisions will be made Tuesday through Thursday when the Bears conduct the extra (voluntary) minicamp that is allowed for teams with new head coaches.

But it will be the first time that a handful of players who were defensive ends in the Bears' previous 3-4 scheme line up as outside linebackers in the new 3-4 alignment of coordinator Vic Fangio. It could take months for former starting defensive ends Jared Allen, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston to make a successful transition -- if they do. Young (Achilles) and Houston (ACL) ended last season on injured reserve and will not be back to 100 percent for months.


Their conversion makes for a crowded linebacker room that already includes holdovers Christian Jones, Shea McClellin, Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and DeDe Lattimore. But, while the Bears are strong in numbers at linebacker, that doesn't mean it's a team strength. None of the returning linebackers has performed well enough to have a job locked up.

Knowing that, general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox have already made moves to add talent and create competition.

One of the linebacker spots belongs to Pernell McPhee, who was the Bears' big-splash free-agent signing, He is considered a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker but has the versatility to play anywhere on the front seven. The Bears also brought in four-year veteran Sam Acho, who started 32 games at linebacker in the Arizona Cardinals' 3-4 but just six in the previous two seasons.

It will also be interesting to see if Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte is in attendance. He has not participated in the off-season conditioning program (also voluntary) that began two weeks ago.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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