Chicago Bears position preview: Major question marks surround defensive line

The Chicago Bears begin training camp July 30 on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Leading up to the first practice, we'll break down the roster, position by position. We next move to the defensive line, which already lost one projected starter in the offseason when Chicago released troubled defensive end Ray McDonald.

The cast: Jeremiah Ratliff (11th season), Eddie Goldman (1st season), Ego Ferguson (2nd season), Brandon Dunn (2nd season), Jarvis Jenkins (5th season), Cornelius Washington (3rd season), Terry Williams (1st season), Olsen Pierre (1st season), Will Sutton (2nd season).

Key number: Opponents rushed for 1,803 yards (4.3 yards per carry) against the Bears in 2014.

For starters: Bears general manager Ryan Pace said in May that Ratliff is expected to be a key contributor up front. A veteran of the 3-4 defense dating back to his playing days with the Dallas Cowboys, Ratliff is experienced enough to play nose tackle or end. However, Ratliff's durability is a concern -- 26 games missed from 2012-14. Goldman is projected to be the nose tackle of the future. At the bare minimum, the club's 2015 second-round draft pick should be active on game days and part of the defensive line rotation. Ferguson dropped weight in the offseason in order to play end. He is a strong contender to start at end, along with Jenkins. A former Washington Redskin, Jenkins started 33 games over the past three seasons.

Backup plan: Not sure there is much of one. Dunn is interesting. The coaches took a hard look at Dunn during the offseason program, where he even took reps with the first team on certain days. He spent most of last season on the Bears' practice squad until being promoted to the active roster in late November. Washington has great size at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, but he never developed into a 4-3 defensive end. Maybe the switch to a 3-4 is good for Washington, who played in that scheme in college at Georgia. Williams (6-foot, 329 pounds) is supposed to be talented, but he had a litany of off-the-field issues at East Carolina.

Next: Linebackers