While former Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher and four-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs are one of the better one-two punches in the NFL at the middle and weak-side positions, respectively, strong-side linebacker has been an issue.
But the Monsters of the Midway plugged yet another potential hole on a chaotic Friday, signing six-year veteran Pisa Tinoisamoa. The former second-round draft pick out of Hawaii played under Bears head coach Lovie Smith his rookie season with the Rams in 2003, so he is familiar with the Cover-2 scheme run in Chicago. Tinoisamoa topped St. Louis with 104 tackles this past year but was deemed expendable by new head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and he is expected to step into the starting lineup alongside Urlacher and Briggs on the strong side.
Smith said back at the Scouting Combine that Hunter Hillenmeyer, Nick Roach, and Jamar Williams would all be in the mix to start, but Tinoisamoa liked what he saw on a free-agent visit May 20 and chose the Bears over the Bills and Patriots.
Tinoisamoa should be in the starting lineup come Week 1 alongside Urlacher and Briggs.
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Although general manager Jerry Angelo and Co. got off to a slow start strengthening the roster this offseason, the Bears have made some major additions on both sides of the ball and should be one of the more improved teams in the league this year. The crowning achievement was landing Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler in a blockbuster trade with Denver, but then Angelo solidified the offensive line by signing future Hall of Fame tackle Orlando Pace the very same day. The front office was praised on NFL Draft weekend for addressing immediate needs and getting good value with their nine picks, and now Tinoisamoa answers a potential question mark for a defense looking to return to elite status.
Roach and Williams should make the 53-man roster because both are accomplished contributors on special teams, but Hillenmeyer could very well be pink-slipped before long now that Tinoisamoa has come to the Windy City.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.