Okeafor To Open Season At DE
August 23 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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With John Engelberger bed ridden from surgery to remove his appendix, it looks like Chike Okeafor will begin the season as the teams starting defensive end. Engleberger has been fighting off Okeafor all summer, but now Okeafor will have an opportunity to strut his stuff. If Okeafor takes full advantage of the end of pre-season and the beginning of the regular season, it could be difficult for Engelberger to unseat him when he does return to the field.
The Okeafor/Engelberger battle has been an ongoing fight over the past few years. Last season Okeafor came on strong towards the end of the season when Engelberger missed some time. Okeafor looked very good, especially in the pass rush, and if he can play that well again, in Engelbergerís absence, Engelberger will have a hard time cracking back into the starting line up.
Regardless of who starts, both ends are expected to receive an abundance of play time. The 49ers are confident in both players, and will make a point to rotate their defensive lineman this summer. That should throw Sean Moran into the mix at end too.
The 49ers have not had this much competition at the end position in quite some time. What they really need is Andre Carter to step up his performance and record at least ten sacks this season. If Carter can do that, it should open up many other opportunities for the rest of the defensive line.