Chicago Bears star defensive tackle Henry Melton left the team's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers on Friday night with a concussion:
DT Henry Melton has been diagnosed with a concussion and will not return to this evening's game. #Bears #CHIvsCARThe 6'3", 296-pound Melton was an NFC Pro Bowl selection in 2012, when he had 32 tackles, six sacks (third among NFL defensive tackles), and two forced fumbles in 14 games for the Bears.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 10, 2013
On March 1st, the Bears slapped the franchise tag (at $8.45 million) on Melton for the 2013 season after the two sides were not able to agree to a contract extension. He figures to get a big contract from the Bears or another NFL team this upcoming offseason. That is of course if he can stay healthy, and a concussion is not a good start to that. It's also a worrisome medical issue to have in your history, and teams (and the NFL in general) are getting extra cautious for subsequent concussions suffered by players that have a history of them (even if just one in the past).
This will unlikely (although you never know with head injuries) hold Melton out more than a couple weeks, and he should be good to go by the season opener against the Bengals in a month, but it still keeps him away from getting useful reps under a new defensive coordinator in Mel Tucker. Additionally, Tucker had Melton working some out of a stand-up, rover-esque position over the last week of camp, and wanted to continue to give Melton practice with the stand-up position.
The 26-year-old Melton is arguably the most important player in the Bears' defensive scheme, and they're going to need him out there, playing like his All-Pro-level self, in order to contend for a Super Bowl in 2013.
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