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Bears LB Acho hopes to be up to speed

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Two years removed from a broken leg that ended his 2013 season after three games, Sam Acho believes he’s more able to contribute in the Chicago Bears’ 3-4 scheme as a pass-rushing outside linebacker at the outset than he did when he was with Arizona.

Acho thought he was ready when 2014 began but found it took a while to get back to the level he’d been playing at the previous season. Eventually, he wound up with only one sack and only four starts.

“It was a process,” he said. “I felt like I was ready at the beginning of the season, but at the same time I felt like I was getting stronger as the season went on, especially toward the end of the season.

“I couldn’t give you an exact timeline, but I know as the season went on I felt stronger and stronger.”

Acho calls the Bears’ situation ideal.

“As far as the switch, as far as the 3-4 defense, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing in the last four years,” he said. “It’s just a good fit.”

The Bears took some criticism from draft experts for their failure to draft another pass-rushing outside linebacker even after adding Acho and Pernell McPhee in free agency. Acho saw no need.

“It just shows that they believe in the guys they’ve got,” he said. “We’ve got a deep room. Guys like Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Jared Allen, myself, David Bass, we’ve got so many guys. It just means they believe in the guys that they’ve got.”

–Guard Matt Slauson had no aftereffects from surgery and rehab on the torn pec muscle that cost him the final eight games in 2014, and he has stepped right in with the starters since the beginning of OTAs.

“Probably last year, and he’d probably tell you the same thing, it was frustrating,” head coach John Fox said about Slauson. “Any time you get injured as a player and you’re not able to go out there with your teammates, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

“He’s really attacked this offseason. He’s been great with our coaching staff and with his teammates and I’ve definitely seen him take a step forward in the leadership department.”

–No timetable is offered on the return from rehab of defensive ends Lamarr Houston (ACL) and Willie Young (Achilles). The Bears have been just as vague about how the two 4-3 ends will be used in the 3-4, although coaches a few times mentioned Houston would get a chance to show he can be a linebacker.

“They’re week to week,” Fox said. “They’re going through their rehab. They’re with the medical staff now. They do an outstanding job. They’re on target and we’ll see when they get back out there.”

–Wide receiver Marquess Wilson has made a fast start in OTAs as he tries to make an early impression. Wilson figures to have to fight for any playing time as the fourth receiver. He’s the third wide receiver in practices.

A broken collarbone cost him half of last season.

“It was probably a frustrating start to his career, but he caught our eye as a guy that we were impressed with on tape, albeit limited tape, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen during these (OTA) practice opportunities,” Fox said.


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