Bears excited about Henry Melton

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Bears defensive lineman Henry Melton finished with 13 tackles, and he didn’t start any games.

But the former fourth-round pick has endeared himself to his coaches, and he appears in line to take the starting spot vacated by Tommie Harris. Melton is currently 294 pounds, and he’s capable of adding more weight, if necessary. But the Bears want to keep his explosiveness, which he flashed in collecting 2 1/2 sacks and forcing one fumble.

“I think Henry Melton is a talented athlete,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said at the NFL owners meeting. “His upside is… we saw some special plays from him in a limited role, and I’m excited about him getting some more reps. Probably inside. He’s a guy who can go up, as far as weight is concerned.

“We have options with Henry. I think he’s going to be one of those guys we’re going to be talking about. I don’t want to get too high on that hasn’t done a lot, but he’s definitely one of those guys with a lot of potential.”

At this point, without the draft and free agency, Melton would start alongside Matt Toeaina, who started 10 games and notched two sacks. Anthony Adams is an unrestricted free agent, and the team would like to bring him back — at the right price, of course.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said the plan is for Melton to “hopefully be the starter.” But, the Bears could still draft a defensive tackle with the 29th overall pick, because this year’s rookie class is so deep at the position.

“He kept getting a little better, a little better, so the arrow is going up,” Angelo said. “Physically speaking, he’s got everything you want, in terms of size, speed, toughness. That’s not in question. Now, its just matter of learning the position, and that will come with repetition of more play.”

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