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Write Now Blog

Defense making a smooth transition

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 4, 2013 – 6:15 pm

Brian Urlacher and the previous coaching regime are gone. But the Bears are confident that their defense will pick up this season under new coordinator Mel Tucker where it left off last year.

“You’ve seen in preseason it’s been a success for us,” said cornerback Tim Jennings. “We didn’t really change a whole lot. Coach Tucker came in and decided he just wanted to play his role and know that what we were doing in the past worked.

“He just implemented his style of defense; kind of mixed it up a little bit but kept the same terminology. We kept the same core of guys. We’re missing Brian and a few defensive pieces, but we added a whole lot of depth and the guys have fit well into what we’re trying to do.”

Keeping the same system and terminology in place has resulted in a very smooth transition.

“It helps a lot,” said defensive end Julius Peppers. “We’re all familiar with it. There wasn’t a learning curve. We all knew what we had to do, and now it’s about going out and doing it.”

It appears that little has changed with the defense, at least in one key aspect of the game. After leading the NFL with 44 takeaways last year, the Bears produced a league-high 14 in the preseason.

“We definitely pride ourselves on takeaways,” said safety Major Wright. “Coach [Jon] Hoke definitely emphasized that when Lovie had left. He put it back in, and coach Tucker, he’s a guy who went with it. It’s going great. Every practice we definitely focus on takeaways. If we don’t get a takeaway, we feel like our day didn’t go right.”


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Teammates believe in rookie linemen

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 4, 2013 – 5:01 pm

Right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills are set to become the first pair of Bears rookie offensive linemen to start a season opener since 1983. But teammates who’ve worked closely with the two draft picks since the spring no longer view them as rookies.

“I don’t really think about it anymore,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “They played there the whole [preseason]. I mean, the first day I thought about it. But then Day 2, I didn’t think as much about it, and Day 3 I didn’t think as much about it. It’s like Week 8 now with them out there so I really don’t think about it as much. I think they’re doing a great job.”

Veteran center Roberto Garza has been most impressed with the duo’s willingness to learn.

“They’re just eager to pick things up, and they want to go over things over and over again until we get it right,” Garza said in advance of Sunday’s opener against the Bengals at Soldier Field. “Both guys are very talented, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on Sunday.”

Garza isn’t worried about Long and Mills being overwhelmed by pre-game jitters.

“The entire line will be working together, so it’s all our jobs to keep everybody on the same page,” Garza said. “It’s the first game for everybody. I know the left side played a couple more games, but it’s the first game of the season and everybody is going to get the pregame jitters. So we’re all going to be talking every play and trying to get everybody on the same page.”

Garza told reporters that he’s not surprised the two rookies earned starting jobs.

“You see the guys play,” Garza said. “The guys are doing a hell of a job when they get opportunities. This league is about opportunities, and they took advantage of it and they proved themselves. Now it’s time to go out there and do it play-after-play.


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Bears healthy heading into opener

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 4, 2013 – 3:59 pm

All 53 players on the Bears roster practiced without restrictions Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field.

That included receiver Earl Bennett, defensive tackle Henry Melton and middle linebacker D.J. Williams, all of whom missed all or most of the preseason due to injuries.

“Everybody worked today,” coach Marc Trestman told reporters. “All the players that you’ve asked about over the last few weeks how they were doing were out there. We had everybody out there.”

The Bengals listed eight players on their injury report: Cornerback Brandon Ghee (concussion), guard Mike Pollak (knee) and tackle Andre Whitworth (knee) did not practice; defensive tackle Devon Still (knee) was limited; and defensive end Carlos Dunlap (concussion), tight end Tyler Eifert (forearm), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion) and tackle Andre Smith (knee) worked out without restrictions.

In other news Wednesday, the Bears made a practice squad move, re-signing guard Derek Dennis and terminating the contract of quarterback Jerrod Johnson.

Dennis spent the final five weeks of last season on the Bears practice squad and a majority of the preseason with the team before he being waived last Friday as part of final cuts. The 6-3, 315-pounder entered the NFL last year as an undrafted free agent with the Dolphins out of Temple.

Johnson, who was cut just three days after being signed to the practice squad, could return.

“We’re just in the process of moving our roster around,” Trestman said. “There were multiple issues putting this 53 together for the week. And we’re not closing the door on him either. It’s certainly possible that he could be back in the very near future.

“It wasn’t anything he did or the way he operated over the last couple days. We had to do some things with the roster and we’ll see where we are at the beginning of next week. It’s just going to be some of these 52, 53 and 54 guys we could have to move around to get our roster right for the week, and there were reasons why we did it.”


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