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Bears Position Preview: Goldman, Hicks Must Lead Defensive Line Disruption

By Chris Emma--

Editor's note: This is the sixth entry in a series of positional previews leading up to the start of Bears training camp. Find the rest of them here.

(CBS) The Bears' defense is built to win up front.

That's the plan second-year general manager Ryan Pace came up with this offseason. Now, the pressure's on for the defensive line to attack the quarterback.

Vic Fangio's Bears defense has improved in talent from a year ago, led by the additions of linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman, but don't discount what defensive lineman Akiem Hicks brings to the table.

In Hicks, the Bears brought in a disruptive, versatile force who can work well with second-year defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. The two will complement each other with line stunts and blitzes.

Hicks and Goldman make up the identity of the Bears' defensive line, but there are other intriguing names to watch, too. Fangio prefers a steady rotation up front, so it will be interesting to see how the defensive line shapes up as training camp goes on.

Let's take a look at the Bears' defensive line.

The 'wrecking balls'

The nickname for Goldman and Hicks became official in mini-camp.

As Goldman swooped through the offensive line to the backfield, Hicks channeled Miley Cirus: He came in like a wrecking ball!

The Bears are counting on Goldman and Hicks to lead their line. They are similar players -- Goldman at 325 pounds, Hicks at 324, with both bringing explosiveness off the snap and athletic frames to reach the backfield.

Learning how to play off each other will be the key for these two.

"As long as we communicate, we can do anything we want," Goldman said. "He's a guy with abilities, and I'm a guy with abilities. As long as we communicate, we can do big things."

Fangio likes how Goldman and Hicks can move throughout the defensive line, and the Bears envision finding different ways to use the two as forces to create pressure.

The depth: Jonathan Bullard, Ego Fergson, Will Sutton, Mitch Unrein, Keith Browner, Marquis Jackson, Cornelius Washington, Terry Williams

How do the Bears round out their defensive line? That's a key question as the team reports to Bourbonnais on Wednesday.

The trusted veteran Unrein could be the third defensive line starter in the 3-4 base defense, though the Bears will play plenty of sub packages, so versatility is needed.

Entering camp, a spotlight will be on Sutton and Ferguson -- a pair of Phil Emery picks -- to earn a place in their third seasons. Neither have been consistent enough to solidify a role.

Bullard is an interesting player to follow, too. Pace showed plenty of trust in the young Florida prospect by taking him in the third round. If Bullard shows steady play in camp, he could earn a key role in the Bears' rotation.

Keep an eye on Jackson, the brother of NFL star Malik Jackson. Bears coach John Fox likes what he has seen of Jackson thus far.

However it plays out, the defensive line will be fascinating to follow come training camp.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago's sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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