The Chicago Bears will be without defensive tackle Henry Melton for the remainder of the 2013 season, as ESPN reports that the Pro Bowl lineman suffered a torn ACL in the team's 40-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
"You can't replace a Henry Melton. He is an elite D-lineman. He will be missed. The next man has to step up and do his job. Phil Emery and our coaching staff will find the right guys."
Melton, 26, was a fourth-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft and took over as a full-time starter for the Bears in 2011. In the next two seasons, Melton recorded 13 sacks and was dealt the franchise tag from the Bears in May. Currently on a one-year deal worth $8.45 million, a second consecutive franchise tag won't be a viable option for the Bears, which casts doubt on Melton's future with the team.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. of SB Nation's Bears blog, Windy City Gridiron, anticipates the injury will force fourth-year defensive tackle Nate Collins to start in Melton's vacant three-technique role, while Stephen Paea continues his role as the team's starting nose tackle.