DE or OLB, Bears' Young just ready to make plays

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears outside linebacker Willie Young still refers to himself -- half-jokingly -- as a defensive end. Young said he was "born into a 4-3" scheme but possess the skills to be able to adapt to the 3-4 of the Bears' defense.

    Chicago Bears outside linebacker Willie Young still refers to himself -- half-jokingly -- as a defensive end. Young said he was "born into a 4-3" scheme but possess the skills to be able to adapt to the 3-4 of the Bears' defense. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/6/2017 7:12 PM

Outside linebacker Willie Young still refers to himself, only half-jokingly, as a defensive end.

That's where he played his first five NFL seasons when he was in a 4-3 defense for four years with the Detroit Lions and in his first season with the Chicago Bears in 2014.

 

But when Vic Fangio converted the Bears to a 3-4 scheme in 2015, the 6-foot-4, 258-pound Young became an outside linebacker.

By any name and no matter whether he lined up in a two-point or three-point stance, Young's forte is rushing the passer and making plays in pursuit against the run.

Young led the 2014 Bears with a career-best 10 sacks -- as a defensive end. And, in the previous two years as a linebacker, Young has 14 sacks, 4 more than any other Bear.

"I was born into a 4-3, so no matter how you look at it -- I don't care if it's upside down, from the north, the south, the east or the west -- I was born in a 4-3," Young said. "But I happen to possess a set of skills that allow me to adapt to my climate.

"Just like I adapted (to) NC State coming from Florida, just like how I adapted in Detroit coming from (North) Carolina, and so on. Now I'm in Chicago, and I've learned how to adapt."

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Back and forth:

May 30 was an eventful day for Connor Shaw, who was, then wasn't, then was again, a backup quarterback for the Bears.

Waived in the morning to make room for the roster addition of wide receiver Victor Cruz, Shaw, who had been No. 4 on the depth chart, headed home to South Carolina.

Just a couple of hours later, No. 2 quarterback Mark Sanchez suffered a knee injury at practice that will keep him sidelined through next week's full-team minicamp.

So the Bears called Shaw, who spent 2016 on their injured reserve list with a fractured leg suffered in the preseason.

"It was a wild day; unique circumstances," said the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Shaw. "Mark goes down in practice, and (offensive coordinator) Dowell (Loggains) calls me and says they needed me back.

"So I told him I would turn around. I was just south of Lexington (Ky.), so I had a little bit of a hike back. But well worth the drive. It was a good thing the next day was a day off to get my mind back on track. But it's good to be here."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Make it hurt:

Last year's first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd tied for second on the team with 7 sacks despite a variety of minor injuries that kept him out of four games and limited him in a couple others.

So what's next for the talented outside linebacker?

"Bring the pain, baby," said eighth-year veteran outside linebacker Willie Young. "And I have no doubt in my mind he's going to bring it. I'm going to give him an 'OK' year for 2016. I ain't going to give him no 'decent.'

"He had an OK year. But what I've seen from that young man is -- pretty nice. I'm liking where he's at right now."

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

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