Finally healthy, Wootton making an impact

Shea McClellin, left, and Corey Wootton give the Bears some youth in their defensive end rotation. AP Photo/Mike Roemer

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It took a couple of years, but Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton is starting to resemble the dominant pass-rusher he was at Northwestern where he registered 10 sacks as a junior before suffering a serious knee injury in the 2008 Alamo Bowl.

Wootton has already had his best professional campaign after just two weeks of the regular season with 1.5 sacks, three quarterback pressures and a forced fumble. Wootton and 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin have solidified themselves as key members of the Bears' defensive end rotation behind starters Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije.

“It’s been nice," Wootton said. "Just the rotation is giving people a different look. One play it’s Izzy, one play it’s myself, one play it’s Shea, one play it’s Pep, so it gives everybody a different look. And inside they’re doing a good job of rotating as well. It’s different looks all across the board.

“I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far. I’m always looking to improve on the little details and just getting more pressure. I think the biggest thing is staying to our routine every week. Coach always strives, get off and just getting to a spot. That’s what we’ve been trying to do. He says, ‘Four equals one,’ and we’re all trying to rush as a unit together.”

A limited Wootton returned from a knee injury to play his senior year for the Wildcats, and despite a dip in production, was still selected by the Bears in the fourth round (No. 109 overall) of the 2010 NFL draft. But the knee continued to be an issue for Wootton as a rookie. He appeared in just six games and had one sack, albeit a memorable one against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre on a Monday night game when the Bears clinched the NFC North title.

Wootton's fortunes did not improve much last season when he sustained another knee injury in the preseason opener and failed to record a sack while being active in seven games.