Bears

Bears defense gets first three INTs of camp in practice No. 5

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Bears defense gets first three INTs of camp in practice No. 5

BOURBONNAIS — Takeaways are the lifeblood of defenses, and part of the attraction to the 3-4 as being implemented by the Bears is the element of pressure it brings, ideally resulting in forcing the offense into turnovers.

But through four practices — two in pads, two without — the Bears’ defense was interception-less and had taken away one fumble. That changed on Monday with defenses coming away with three interceptions, the first of camp.

[MORE BEARS: Jay Cutler turnover free through five training camp practices]

The positive for the Bears overall lay in that none of them were committed by the No. 1 offense. But the trend line for an aggressive defense was positive.

Cornerback Al Louis-Jean picked of a Jimmy Clausen pass while safeties Anthony Jefferson and Sherrod Martin each intercepted rookie Shane Carden.

Antrel Rolle locked up in coverage on tight end Martellus Bennett, but Bennett worked free enough for Jay Cutler to get a throw in and Bennett turned it into a touchdown with a tumbling grab. Cornerback Sherrick McManis and safety Brock Vereen were victimized by wideout Marquess Wilson on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Cutler.

[MORE BEARS: Defense intent on instilling 'fear' into opponents]

Kyle Fuller took on Bennett and delivered a pass breakup in the end zone. Cornerback Alan Ball was bothered by a foot injury through the offseason, had some discomfort on Sunday and was kept out of practice on Monday.

Defensive line

The mix-and-match continues along the front and with different iterations and pairings. Rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman was a force in the interior, driving center Will Montgomery back into the backfield to disrupt one run play. Terry Williams, a 6-foot, 329-pound undrafted rookie out of East Carolina, was back at practice after a recovery day and was explosive. Williams went with a bull rush that drove guard Conor Boffeli backwards in the dummy situated to simulate the quarterback.

[SHOP: Buy Bears Training Camp gear]

The play of the day may have come from backup defensive lineman Brandon Dunn, who shot an interior gap and hit rookie Jeremy Langford almost as soon as the back took the handoff. Cornelius Washington had a sack for the fifth straight day and added a pass bat-down.

Linebacker

Mason Foster is getting reps with different units and continuing to display quickness getting into gaps vs. running plays. Shea McClellin, who has called signals in the defensive huddle, got leverage against guard Kyle Long on a running play, forcing Long to make an apparent good-natured tackle of him to keep McClellin from getting to the play. McClellin also timed his rush on a blitz perfectly, was into the A gap with striking speed, and only a quick reaction by Montgomery prevented McClellin from reaching Cutler.

David Bass went around tackle Michael Ola almost without being touched in a pass-run but was stopped much more effectively by tackle Jordan Mills, whom Bass beat cleanly on several occasions Sunday.

Trubisky on NFC North QBs: 'Bring 'em on'

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USA Today

Trubisky on NFC North QBs: 'Bring 'em on'

The NFC North was recently dubbed the most talented quarterback division in the NFL largely because of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford.

Bears starter Mitch Trubisky may eventually be viewed as an elite quarterback someday, but his average rookie season has created some doubt among analysts about whether he'll ever be that guy.

In a recent sit-down with Bleacher Report's Tyler Dunne, Trubisky said he isn't concerned with outside opinion, nor is he intimidated by the resumes of his NFC North counterparts.

"I've realized that these people you look up to—watching Aaron Rodgers, watching Tom Brady—they're humans just like I am," Trubisky told Dunne. "They can make mistakes. They're just people. We've all been through similar things to get to where we are now. ... As a competitor, you want the biggest, tallest challenge you can possibly ask for.

"So, yeah, give me the division with Aaron Rodgers, Stafford and Kirk Cousins. Bring 'em on."

Trubisky's confidence has been evident this offseason. There's no doubt who the Bears' leader in the locker room is. Just ask Kyle Long.

Still, he's not without his critics, something he said he doesn't consume himself with.

"Why would I be worried about what anybody has to say on the outside?" he said. "You're sitting in a chair talking into a microphone. I'm in the war. I'm in the middle of the hurricane."

Trubisky's name is consistently mentioned after DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes whenever the 2017 quarterback class is discussed and few -- if any -- experts expect him to be the best of the three.

But none of that matters. All Trubisky has to be is a winner in Chicago, and he certainly has the confidence needed to get there.

"So get ready," he said. "I'm going to be prepared. I'm going to give you everything I've got. Hopefully, I make people eat their words with what they say about me."

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 6 - Kyle Fuller

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 6 - Kyle Fuller

Last year this time, Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller was about to start the most important training camp of his pro football career. The former first-round pick was coming off a season where he didn't play a single game because of a mysterious knee injury and was viewed as a potential training camp casualty.

The Bears didn't pick up his fifth-year option and as a result, the 2017 season represented a prove-it year for Fuller. And boy did he ever.

Fuller enjoyed the best season of his career from both a health and production standpoint. He registered 60 tackles and two interceptions en route to becoming the kind of shutdown corner the Bears envisioned when he was selected 14th overall in the 2014 NFL draft. He got paid for his efforts, too.

Ryan Pace rewarded Fuller with a four-year $56 million contract, making him one of the team's biggest cap hits over the next three seasons. To be fair, Fuller's contract was actually offered by the rival Packers and Pace exercised his option to match under the transition tag. Still, it's a contract that Fuller must now continue to earn. One great season is a far cry from a great career.

There's no reason to expect a regression from Fuller, assuming he can stay healthy. The entire starting secondary is returning and should be even better than last year with more comfort and confidence in each other. Fuller can trust safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos to have his back if he takes a chance at an interception. It's not unreasonable to expect Fuller to have an even better year considering he's beginning 2018 with that trust in his teammates already developed.

The Bears need Fuller to take hold of elite status this year. He's just as important to the defense's success as the pass rush is. He has to make Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford think twice about throwing in his direction. He needs to shrink the field.

Fuller isn't that guy yet, but if he blossoms into one of the league's top cover guys, Chicago's defense will challenge for an even better status than the top-10 finish they enjoyed a year ago. Much of his success will rely on the aforementioned pass rush, and one could argue that the Bears haven't exactly set up Fuller for a sensational breakout. But the point remains: For Chicago to soar among the league's top defenses, Fuller has to become one of the NFL's best pure defenders.

He's close.