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Stopping Lions’ Ndamukong Suh top priority for Bears O-linemen

The Bears will try keep Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh under control Monday. | Tony Gutierrez~AP

The Bears will try to keep Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh under control Monday. | Tony Gutierrez~AP

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Updated: November 16, 2011 11:26AM

If only it were as simple as stopping Ndamukong Suh.

‘‘If you double him on every play, then I don’t have enough guys,’’ Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice said. ‘‘We’re going to try to give guys help, but we also have to give help on [Kyle Vanden Bosch]. [We have to give] help on [Cliff] Avril. There’s only so many guys we can help at the same time. At some point, guys have to earn their checks.’’

The biggest challenge for the Bears against the unbeaten Detroit
Lions on Monday night at Ford Field will be containing Suh, a
second-year defensive tackle who had 10 sacks and made the Pro Bowl last season, without getting burned by ends Vanden Bosch and Avril or Corey Williams on the inside.

‘‘Every one of my guys has a challenge this week,’’ Tice said. ‘‘This is the best front we’ve played this year. They don’t blitz because they don’t have to blitz.’’

The Lions’ defensive line tied for second in the NFL last season with 39 sacks and has seven of the team’s nine sacks this season,
including three by Vanden Bosch and two by Suh.

It’s Suh who merits the most
attention. He already is considered in a class with the Baltimore
Ravens’ Haloti Ngata as the best defensive tackles in the NFL. And his aggressive nature that ­straddles the line of fair play has gotten the attention of officials, opponents and the NFL.

‘‘First of all, he cannot get to the quarterback — plain and simple,’’ Bears center Roberto Garza said. ‘‘It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen. If he’s close to the quarterback, one of us got beat, and we can’t let that be an issue.’’

The presence of Suh complicates personnel decisions the Bears have on the right side of their offensive line. Lance Louis is a better guard than he is a tackle, but he might have to play tackle. Louis faced Suh in the opener last season — the first NFL start for both players — and did well. Suh had one sack, but that was a technical sack as the closest defender to Jay Cutler when Cutler ran out of bounds.

‘‘He’s a football player,’’ Louis said. ‘‘He’s a good player. Every week we’re going to line up against somebody like that. He’s human. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, like everybody else.’’

But neither the Bears nor Suh is concerned about Suh’s reputation as a player who crosses the line
between intensity and dirty play.

‘‘I don’t have a concern of whether people think I may cross it or not,’’ Suh said. ‘‘I don’t teeter-totter around that line. I feel that I play very hard and aggressive, and that’s how I got where I am today. It’s one of the reasons I’m successful. People are entitled to their opinion.’’

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