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Notre Dame’s Nix, Tuitt can help Bears

Updated: February 25, 2014 12:50PM



The Bears’ search for defensive-line help is sure to take them to Notre Dame, where defensive tackle Louis Nix III and defensive end Stephon Tuitt are intriguing prospects who transcend scheme.

Nix is coming off surgery in November to repair a torn meniscus. He said he has lost 23 pounds and came in at 6-2, 331 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. It did not prevent him from working out at the combine.

‘‘How’s the knee? It’s fantastic. How’s your knee?’’ the engaging Nix said when asked about it Sunday at the combine.

Nix’s athleticism could give him the versatility that will attract a lot of interest in the draft. He could play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.

‘‘I don’t care [which], to be honest,’’ he said.

Nix is projected to go in the middle of the first round. The Seahawks, Steelers and Ravens were among the teams showing interest.

‘‘I was star-struck by [Seahawks coach] Pete Carroll,’’ Nix said.

The knee injury and a 2013 season that was not as impressive as his 2012 season have created some doubt. Asked what he wanted to show at the combine, he said, ‘‘That my knee is well — I can run on it. I have a little ‘wiggle.’ Just show that I’m back to myself again — [with] less weight, though.’’

The 6-5, 304-pound Tuitt — who dropped 24 pounds in preparation for the combine — suffered a setback Monday when he was held out of drills after benching 31 reps of 225 pounds because of a stress fracture in his left foot. His anticipated recovery time of six to eight weeks will force him to miss Notre Dame’s pro day, as well, according to NFL.com.

But he won’t be forgotten. Tuitt had 12 sacks as a sophomore in 2012 but was not as effective in 2013 after offseason surgery for a sports hernia. His health issues likely will knock him down in the draft, but his upside is so great that he’s unlikely to fall far.

Like Nix, he could fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. With his athleticism, he could play anywhere.

‘‘I’m very versatile,’’ Tuitt said during his combine media interview. ‘‘I can play every position on the defensive line.’’

Tuitt doesn’t have Nix’s gift of gab, but he’s a team player all the way. He was asked to name one Notre Dame teammate he would take with him to the next level. ‘‘All of them,’’ he said.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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