Cornelius Washington bulks up for new role with Bears

SHARE Cornelius Washington bulks up for new role with Bears
SHARE Cornelius Washington bulks up for new role with Bears

BOURBONNAIS – A new role for the Bears has meant more weight for third-year defensive lineman Cornelius Washington. He’s no longer a rangy athlete with edge-rushing potential. He’s working at being a stout, block-eating end in a 3-4 defense.

“I’m at 289 [pounds],” Washington said after practice Monday at Olivet Nazarene University. “I feel like just to be able to play the position, be a little more stout and be better in there, I think I need a couple of extra pounds.

“It’s just trying to balance up. When I get some of those double-team blocks and that adjacent lineman comes down and tries to bump me out of there, I need a little more weight to be able fight that off.”

A sixth-round pick in 2013, Washington, who was 265 pounds at the scouting combine, has welcomed the position change. He’s not upset that he didn’t get a shot at outside linebacker, where Pernell McPhee, Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Sam Acho and Willie Young are competing for snaps. The Bears need to establish depth for their three-man front.

“It gives me a chance to be on the field a lot more than the previous two years,” said Washington, who was active for 13 games last season. “That’s been the biggest difference of it and one of the main reasons why I’m not stressing about being down there. I think it will be a good move for me.”

Washington said his speed could lead to mismatches against guards and tackles in pass-rushing situations. But he knows his primary role is to prevent linemen from reaching the Bears’ linebackers.

“It’s not all fun and games down there,” Washington said. “It’s a grind depending on what blocking scheme I’m about to get, whether it’s doubles, reaches or power scoops. It’s definitely a different world than just coming off the edge and being able to be free and rush in space one-on-one.”

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Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

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