BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — The 3-4 defense of the Bears will be in a formative state probably deep into this season. But individual players are making impact plays, and if the Bears want to be the running team that coach John Fox and coordinator Adam Gase envision, they will need to be winning more battles at the point of attack, something not easily done against a front seven that doesn’t always seem to remember that it’s not supposed to be very good.
“Right now we’re still getting everything together, but it’s fun,” said defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff. “It’s providing a lot of freedom for the players, and the players get to take ownership for the defense. And once you have that it makes it way more productive. Everybody is enjoying it, as well as believing in it, and it’s been good.”
Whether there is room on the roster for him or not, Cornelius Washington is having his best camp in three seasons, with a sack in every practice and multiple other impact plays. Washington was one of the lesser lights in the grab bag of defensive ends (Jared Allen, David Bass, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young) in the mix for conversion to outside linebacker but has bulked up to 285 and shown enough strength to take some reps at a 5-technique spot on a constantly changing line… .
Jared Allen is the definition of a hybrid in this defense but is playing physical at the point against the run. Allen stuffed a run play by taking on a solid block from Martellus Bennett, then turning the run inside… . Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins dislocated a finger in practice, had it popped back in and went back to work… . Eddie Goldman is looking less and less like a rookie, moving in for some snaps with the still-forming No. 1 defense to give Jeremiah Ratliff a break and blowing up two different run plays with pressure in the “A” gap.
Mason Foster was signed to compete at inside linebacker and is pushing Shea McClellin with some strong efforts in both pass and run defense. Foster stuffed two different run plays with quick bursts into gaps and has been above average in pass drops, something of a weaker area when he was operating as “Mike” linebacker in Lovie Smith’s 4-3… . Christian Jones showed sideline-to-sideline speed running down a tailback trying to turn upfield around the edge on a sweep. Jones, operating as one of the inside twosome, stuffed an inside run attempt with a gap fill and hit on Jacquizz Rodgers… .
David Bass turned in two outstanding wins with rushes on one-on-one matchups with starting tackle Jordan Mills. “I'm still getting adjusted,” Bass said. “It's my first time playing outside linebacker. But just getting back into pads, we haven't in pads since last year vs. the Vikings so that's good to finally hit and compete and get used to moving back around with the pads on”… .Shea McClellin was engulfed and overpowered by guard Kyle Long on an inside run. McClellin continues to make the huddle calls but will be expected to take on the occasional Pro Bowl guard at the point of attack.
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Tim Jennings won a red-zone rep against Eddie Royal, locking onto the wide receiver and forcing a Jay Cutler throwaway to avoid a sack… . Antrel Rolle went head to head with Alshon Jeffery in drills, a tough matchup with a safety. Rolle, however, was physical with the bigger wideout, and was only beaten with a superb release by Jeffery… .
Kyle Fuller delivered a diving pass breakup of a throw from Jay Cutler to Josh Bellamy.