‘Perfect fit’ — Rookie NT Eddie Goldman making bid to start

SHARE ‘Perfect fit’ — Rookie NT Eddie Goldman making bid to start
SHARE ‘Perfect fit’ — Rookie NT Eddie Goldman making bid to start

BOURBONNAIS —The Bears don’t gush about anybody under John Fox, but Eddie Goldman’s ascension in training camp cannot be ignored.

Goldman, the 6-4, 332-pound nose tackle who was the Bears’ second-round draft pick (39th overall) in May, is expected to get first crack at the all-important anchor position on the line in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense when the Bears open the preseason against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night at Soldier Field.

Veteran Jeremiah Ratliff, a four-time Pro Bowl nose tackle with the Cowboys from 2008-11, has moved from the nose to left end to make room for Goldman. It’s Goldman’s job to lose.

“He’s starting to understand how to play the game now, so it’s all about, ‘Where can I take shortcuts?’” Bears defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said. “‘Where can I tell where the ball’s going before it goes there? What are the tops the offensive line is giving away?’”

Goldman was drafted as a proto-type for the 3-4 defense. “He’s a big dude. A huge dude. A perfect fit,” teammate Will Sutton said. The question now is how quickly Goldman can learn the nuances of one of the key positions in the Bears’ defense.

“The guy is 330-plus pounds. Physically he has it,” Rodgers said. “He’s got knock-back. He’s got anchor — that’s why he’s a second-round draft pick. Now, can you put the mental part of it together to get the physical to match up and make plays.”

Ratliff’s versatility has helped the situation. At 6-4, 303 pounds he can play anywhere on the Bears’ defensive line.

“Jay’s played a long time in this league, and wherever you put him on the field, he’s going to excel,” Rodgers said. “Whether you have him at end or nose, I don’t think it matters to him. He’s just a football player. He understands how to stuff and shed blocks, get on edges with a pass rush, and find his way to the quarterback.”

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