Brown still not sure why he lost starting job to Anderson

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bears defensive end Alex Brown hopes to have a shot to reclaim his starting job on the D line.

    Bears defensive end Alex Brown hopes to have a shot to reclaim his starting job on the D line. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/28/2007 8:29 AM

A lot of people still don't understand why the Bears' Alex Brown lost his starting spot at right end to Mark Anderson last off-season -- including Brown.

As a lightly regarded fifth-round draft pick in 2006, Anderson made a huge splash when he collected a team-best dozen sacks, playing mostly as a situational pass rusher. But Brown had a career-best 7 sacks and led all Bears linemen with 71 tackles, his fourth straight season with more than 70 and his fourth straight season without missing a single start.

 

"No, I don't (understand)," Brown said. "Mark had a very special year. The only thing that upset me was the way it was handled.

"Let us go to training camp, and let's have the best man win it. That's how I thought stuff was supposed to be done. But in this case, it wasn't done like that. It was thought that he earned it (last year), and he played well. I'm not going to take anything away from him. But you go to training camp, and that's where you earn your job -- not the season before."

Despite not starting the first 14 games, Brown is second among Bears linemen with 53 tackles, 17 more than Anderson, and those two are tied for second on the team with 5 tackles for loss.

"Like I've said before, I don't think I did anything to lose it," Brown said. "That's what I stand on. I don't think I did anything to lose the job, but I did (lose it), and from that point I have to move forward."

The argument over who should start is moot now, since Anderson is on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury against the Vikings on Dec. 17, but the issue is certain to be revisited as soon as next May's minicamp.

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Brown was clearly irritated when his demotion came down last off-season, and he didn't hide his displeasure. But, once the season began, Brown was like a young Henry Hill in "Good Fellas." He learned two very important things: Keep your mouth shut and don't tell anybody anything.

"Sometimes, you just have to be quiet," Brown said. "I'm a pretty talkative person, but sometimes you just gotta not say anything. Like now."

In his first 2007 start last week, Brown's 6 tackles were 1 less than Adewale Ogunleye's D-line best of 7, and he had the Bears' only sack, an interception (the only one this season by a Bears defensive lineman) and 2 pass breakups.

Based on Brown's production, a reassessment of the starting lineup should be in order this off-season, although it will be some time before coaches are prepared to discuss that.

"We haven't even thought about that at all," defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "I know he's done a great job, last week was a very good football game for him, and Alex has done a good job all year."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Brown desperately wants more playing time next season but isn't sure how the situation will play out, although he said he'll be ready for the challenge.

"I honestly don't know what to think right now," Brown said. "I'll go into the off-season, and I'll get into the best shape I can; get stronger, get faster and come back ready to go and we'll see what happens. It'll be a long off-season."

Regardless of how coaches evaluate this season's statistics and videotape, Brown insists he doesn't want them to just give the starting job back to him.

"I don't want to be given anything," Brown said. "If I earned it, I should have it. If I didn't, then I shouldn't."

The 28-year-old, six-year veteran would be satisfied if next summer's in training camp provided an open competition for the job.

"That's all I want," Brown said. "That's all I ask for -- just a chance."

Is Alex Brown right?

Alex Brown believes he should have been the starter at defensive end this season and not lost his job before training camp to Mark Anderson? Is he right? Tell us what you think at sportstalk@dailyherald.com. Please limit your comments to 200 words and include your name, hometown and daytime phone number (for verification purposes).

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