BOURBONNAIS — While so much of the attention has been on the new additions to the defense — lineman Akiem Hicks, linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman — two returning members of the defense have turned heads, in more ways than one.
Outside linebacker Sam Acho, a starter at this time last year before being sidelined with mononucleosis for some weeks and losing his job to Jared Allen, continued his high-impact camp Thursday, taking turns besting Bears offensive tackles Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. He followed that with a near interception on a superb pass drop and mirroring quarterback Brian Hoyer’s scramble before undercutting the intended receiver for the near-pick.
Acho set Massie up for an outside speed move that left him with a clean win. He followed that with an inside counter against Leno, the most consistent pass protector of camp, and again went in on the quarterback-dummy virtually untouched.
Coaches set up a best-of-three matchup with Leno, who redeemed the position group’s honor with a stalemate on the second rep and then a clean stand-up of Acho on the third.
- Nose tackle Eddie Goldman, whose improved conditioning and game awareness have him substantially ahead of where he was as a rookie last year, completely stuffed two tight red-zone running attempts, stopping running backs Jeremy Langford and Jacquizz Rodgers on successive tries at the goal line.
“I want to see him dominate,” defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said. "I want to see him be that anchor point in the middle of the 3-4 defense that we all talk about. Once we get into game situations, I want him to knock people back and be able to make plays. That’s what his role is."
- Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery did not finish practice on Wednesday because of muscle tightness and did not attend Thursday’s practice.
“I think again we get concerned about everybody whether they're injured or not practicing,” head coach John Fox said. “But on the other hand we don't get too concerned. We've got guys to take their place, we've got [roster] numbers."
- Guard Amini Silatolu was brought off the physically unable to perform list and was in uniform. Silatolu is coming off ACL surgery and is not expected to begin full participation in practice for some time.
- Kyle Long was back at his customary right guard spot and participating in pass-protection drills and full team sessions, but not every one, as he comes back from a mild calf strain last week.
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- Greg Scruggs, converting to tight end from defensive tackle, demonstrated some receiving skills on Wednesday, catching a couple of Jay Cutler throws. On Thursday Scruggs took on a power rush by Willie Young in team work, stood the veteran rush linebacker up completely, and sealed the edge for a run by Ka’Deem Carey. But Scruggs appeared to take a blow to the head during goal-line work and had his helmet off and was talking with medical staff.
- Leonard Floyd and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks were paired in a pass-rush drill against Massie and Long. Neither of the rushmen got close to a sack. But Floyd flashed with a perfect break to deflect a pass toward wide receiver Daniel Braverman on a third-and-goal in a full team period.