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Bears add another bookend in DE Willie Young

Updated: April 15, 2014 6:30AM



A date isn’t booked, but a fishing trip could be in the near future for new Bears defensive end Willie Young and general manager Phil Emery.

But Young, a noted outdoorsman, will have to play the role of teacher.

“I was working for the Kansas City Chiefs and was at his pro day [four years ago], and we talked about fishing,” Emery said. “And then I got him in the office [Thursday at Halas Hall] and we talked about fishing.

“He’s going to re-teach me how to fish since I haven’t been since age 16.”

Dropping lures and worms in the water only will be more enjoyable for the pair if Young catches quarterbacks and corrals running backs like Emery believes he can.

Emery said he was “extremely pleased” to sign Young to a three-year deal after four seasons with the Lions. In doing so, Emery achieved his goal of adding “a quality starter” to go opposite his most notable acquisition, defensive end Lamarr Houston.

Young’s deal is worth $9 million, including $3.95 million guaranteed, a $2 million signing bonus, a $1 million roster bonus and $150,000 in workout bonuses

“When we went into free agency, we felt that if we could find a way to get two starting defensive linemen we would have made forward progress,” Emery said.

The hope, of course, is that Young, 28, and Houston, 26, reinvigorate a defensive front that couldn’t sack passers or stop any runners in 2013.

Both players have the kind of versatility that Emery has preached since drafting Shea McClellin, ultimately providing defensive coordinator Mel Tucker with ample options as he constructs his multiple-look defense.

Houston can move inside to tackle and Young, at 6-5 and 251 pounds, can drop back and play linebacker. Emery said Young’s long arms give him a distinct advantage, also praising his “on-the-hunt instincts” and calling him “an old-school player.”

“I don’t see offenses being able to slide one way or the other based on a disadvantage or one player not being able to play up to expectations,” Young said of playing with Houston. “We’re somewhat similar. Offenses are going to have to figure out some kind of way to stop two guys who are coming off the edge with no intentions other than to harass quarterbacks.”

In his first year as a starter last year with the Lions, harass quarterbacks is exactly what Young did, recording 11.5 knockdowns and 15 hurries (according to STATS). But sacking them – he only had three in 2013 for six in his career – is another thing.

But Young won’t hide from that.

If anything, he sounds encouraged at how close he’s gotten after being a seventh-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2010 and taking time to develop behind Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch in Detroit.

Young broke through in 2013, making 15 starts and finishing with 47 tackles, seven for loss, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

“He finally got an opportunity to show his wares,” Emery said.

Of course, Emery liked what he saw.

The Jaguars did too, hosting Young for a visit, but, “let’s just say that that didn’t work out,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to a very aggressive defense here in the making,” Young said. “There’s nothing to stop us other than ourselves.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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