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Bears’ Henry Melton hopes for ‘coming-out party’ vs. Steelers

Updated: September 20, 2013 9:41PM



Henry Melton isn’t one to make excuses, but ...

‘‘I couldn’t do anything for three weeks [after suffering a concussion in the preseason]. You can’t help but get a little rusty after taking that kind of time off,’’ Melton said.

‘‘I’m still playing as hard as I’ve ever played. I’m still the same guy. Things just aren’t falling for me right now like they normally do.’’

In other words, Melton will be there eventually. The defensive tackle is under a little more scrutiny after making the Pro Bowl last season and signing an $8.5 million contract as a franchise-tag player in the offseason. Through two games, Melton has three tackles and no other impact plays.

‘‘A lot of people have criticized Henry for the first two games, but what they fail to realize is how much [opposing blockers] slide to him,’’ teammate Corey Wootton said. ‘‘It’s a testament to the respect he commands. It’s always great when you have a guy like that inside that commands that kind of respect, because it frees other guys.’’

Regardless of the attention he’s been commanding, even Melton knows he needs to produce more.

‘‘As long as we’re winning and the defense is playing at a very high level, I don’t have any complaints,’’ said Melton, who had six sacks, five tackles-for-loss and 24 quarterback pressures last season.

‘‘But, personally, I want to be the best. I’ve got to get some sacks. I’ve got to pressure the quarterback like I’m capable of.’’

After missing so much time because of the concussion, Melton is convinced it’s just a matter of time.

‘‘I feel like I’ve played hard,’’ Melton said. ‘‘The first game ... I didn’t have one one-on-one rush. The second game I had some good looks. I just have to get back to my pass-rushing form.’’

That form is as critical to his success on the line as any player on the defense. Now that his conditioning is improving, Melton can feel his form improving.

‘‘I feel great,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m just getting my wind back. Getting my form back. It takes a little bit of time — your pads start getting a little high. You don’t have the same repetitions [in a game as in practice]. You’ve got to get back into it where it feels like practice to you out there and you’re winning rushes.’’

The Bears are counting on Melton regaining his regular-season form and invigorating a defensive line that has two sacks in the first two games after getting 41 last season, including nine in the first two weeks.

‘‘It’s a long season,” Melton said. “It’s been two games. And we’re 2-0. There’s a long way to go.’’

The sooner the better, though.

‘‘I definitely feel it coming,’’ Melton said. ‘‘Hopefully Sunday night [against the Steelers] is finally the coming-out party.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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