Okeafor To Start At End
September 03 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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When the 49ers open their season this Thursday, the 49ers will be starting a new defensive end opposite Andre Carter. Chike Okeafor, a former third round draft pick has finally made his way onto the starting roster. Okeafor was officially given the spot for opening week when John Engelberger had to undergo an appendectomy. It now seems that Okeafor had won the spot and itís his to lose at this point.
Okeafor came on strong at the end of last season before injuring him self. Since his recovery, he has come very prepared to the teamís off-season mini-camps and training camps. It has been his play this off-season that has allowed him to surpass Engelberger on the depth charts.
Okeafor has been playing with a greater urgency and intensity this off-season. He just seems to want it more, and so he has earned his spot on the starting roster. Engelberger figure to work into the defensive line rotation, and likely will see a fair amount of action despite playing the backup role.
The 49ers have been doing everything they can to improve their pass rush. They feel that struggling in this area has allowed them to be exploited in the past, and would like to prevent that from re-occurring. Okeafor has yet to prove that he can bring a consistent pass rush, but certainly his play this off-season, warrants the starting spot.