Chicago Bears need veteran LBs to stay healthy

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman led the team in tackles with 127, including a team-high 7 behind the line of scrimmage. But Freeman missed four games for a failed PED test.

    Chicago Bears inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman led the team in tackles with 127, including a team-high 7 behind the line of scrimmage. But Freeman missed four games for a failed PED test. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/9/2017 7:41 PM

Last year the Bears made strengthening the inside linebacker position a priority in free agency, signing veterans Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman.

The two veterans were a clear upgrade in a glaring area of weakness. Unfortunately for the Bears, Trevathan, although he played well, played only nine games. He missed the final five games on injured reserve after suffering a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee. Earlier in the season Trevathan missed two games after having thumb surgery and played in several more with a cast protecting the injury.

 

The knee injury could imperil Trevathan's readiness for the start of training camp and it could impact his long-term health, even though he just turned 27. He suffered a similar injury in 2014 while with the Denver Broncos.

Despite the injuries and missed games, Trevathan still finished third on the team in tackles.

Freeman missed four games because of a suspension for a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs. But he still led the Bears in tackles by a wide margin with 127, including a team-high 7 behind the line of scrimmage.

The unavailability of the two starters provided an accelerated learning curve for rookie Nick Kwiatkoski. The fourth-round pick from West Virginia started seven games, finished seventh on the team with 52 tackles and established himself as the top backup among a group of young linebackers.

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

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