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Vic Fangio: Bears' Jared Allen can have rebirth at OLB

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Perusing the Chicago Bears' roster, it seems clear that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio lacks clear options at outside linebacker in his 3-4 defense.

Most holdovers from the last regime are natural 4-3 defensive ends now slotted at linebacker out of necessity. From the outside, it looks like a classic case of fitting a square peg into a round hole.

The best example might be Jared Allen. The 33-year-old veteran is coming off a mediocre season and is now playing a position he doesn't seem suited for. However, that's not true, according to Fangio, who believes Allen can rejuvenate his career.

"(Allen) did well in the minicamp we had here, and I think he was excited about it," Fangio said Saturday, per ESPN.com. "Like I told him, I think he can have a rebirth to his career here playing a little bit of a new position.

"But in the NFL today, you play more nickel than you actually play base. For some teams they play nickel 65 to 75 percent of the time. He'll be playing his normal position then. So it's not as drastic of a change as you might think."

Fangio downplayed the transition rushers like Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young must make to his defense.

"We expect a good pass rush from them, so that's no different than being an end," Fangio said. "And they've got to be able to function in coverage a little bit. We're not going to have them doing tough jobs in coverage. Some of them can be, and evolve to be, depending upon the play.

"They'll be doing things they're used to doing as an end, except they're going to be doing it standing up and at the end of the line. It's called a 3-4 defense, but in some ways you can call it a 5-2. We like bigger guys out there. I don't foresee it being a major problem, although there's a lot of learning and growing that has to take place."

We trust Fangio's ability to coax production out of defenders. Come fall, we'll be able to gauge better whether his comments Saturday were speaking truth to ignorance or merely trying to make the best of a situation left by the previous administration.

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