Rookie Wootton could be factor at DE

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Plenty has already been said and written about Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije competing for the starting defensive job opposite Julius Peppers, but rookie Corey Wootton may factor into the equation.

Wootton claims to be fully recovered from that devastating 2008 knee injury, which resulted in the defensive end's sack total dropping from 10 to four his final season at Northwestern.

"It was definitely a tough road to recovery, doing all the strength and range of motion work to get things to 100 percent," Wootton said. "It feels great to finally be there and be able to go through camp 100 percent unlike last year."

Just being healthy isn't enough for Wootton to earn playing time. Since being drafted by the Bears in late April, Wootton has spent time observing Peppers, trying to pick up tricks of the trade.

"I'm similar in height to him [Peppers], so I really notice how low he plays," Wootton said. "That's what I'm trying to strive for, the pad level. It's tough being 6-6 or 6-7 and staying low. He does a tremendous job of doing that and being able to come off fast and use his hands very well. I'm trying to learn whatever I can from him. He's definitely a leader by example, and I'm just trying to follow what he does.

"I just want to continue to improve in everything, pass rush, hands, footwork and everything. Now with pads, we can being physical with everything unlike OTAs."