BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — A little girl with a homemade sign on her dad’s shoulders gave the Bears’ defensive line a boost that some of them may have needed after some portions of Saturday’s first day in pads:
“Free hugs D line” the young lady’s huge sign read.
The Bears’ D line didn’t have THAT bad a first day in pads by any means, and in fact was dominant against the run. Also evident was a degree of physicality that was absent the past couple of seasons, with linebacker/ends Jared Allen and Pernell McPhee among those delivering impact plays in team sessions that set a tone.
“That's going to really show who's got the dog in them and who doesn't,” McPhee said. "That's what it boils down to at the end of the day on defense: who's got the dog in them and who is going to be physical and violent.
“My attitude is, ‘Hey. I know what time it is; time to be a dog and every play I’ve got to be one.”
If Jared Allen is still feeling his way into a new job as a hybrid end/linebacker, it was not evident on Saturday. Allen played physical at the point of attack on numerous occasions against the run, lining up in multiple sets, and thoroughly handling block attempts by a receiver and tight end on separate plays, then closing down fast to stuff an attempted run play… . Cornelius Washington continues to show up on film, playing with 20 pounds added from last year and acquitting himself well as one of the 5-techniques. Washington recorded his third simulated “sack” of camp and also dominated two reps in one-on-one pass rushing drills… .
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Ego Ferguson is playing solid with the No. 1 defense but has not been able to provide noteworthy pass-rush pressure against strong pass-blocking efforts by Bears O-linemen… . Promising rookie nose tackle Terry Williams was held out of practice… .
Jeremiah Ratliff has been frequently unblockable one-on-one in team sessions, particularly strong against inside runs… . The hit of the day came from tackle Brandon Dunn, who got into the backfield and had 235-pound running back Daniel Thomas bounce off him like a ping-pong ball.
Sam Acho batted down a pass on a blitz late in practice, one of the first of this camp — a radical departure from practices when the defense was ordered to keep their hands down because they were blocking too many passes. Acho struggled in some one-on-one passing drills against different Bears right-side linemen… .
Pernell McPhee was barely held off in one-on-one pass rushing drills, working against tackles Charles Leno and Jordan Mills. McPhee is displaying an explosive first step to go with his use of leverage and 280 pounds… .
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The Bears had to be pleased with the play of Lamarr Houston on the first day in pads. Houston was a force against the run, holding the point against 353-pound tackle Tayo Fabuluje and making a hit on the running back. Houston also defended well in space, reacting quickly to pressure quarterback Jimmy Clausen and forcing one premature throw.
Cornerback Terrance Mitchell produced the defense’s first takeaway of camp when he stripped wide receiver Ify Umodu after a catch across the middle, with the defense recovering… . Coverage was good enough twice in 7-on-7 to force quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen to tuck the ball and run because no receiver was open… .
Brock Vereen continues to work alongside Antrel Rolle as the safety tandem, with Ryan Mundy working in with Rolle as well, after Alshon Jeffery got completely loose in the secondary with no defender closer than 20 yards of him. “We're still early in the evaluation,” coach John Fox said. “I think that was our third real practice, first in pads. So much about that position is how they key and diagnose. When you get into live game situations sometimes, practice obviously is big. We let loose a guy wide open on an all-block pass or a gadget play. That's why we're here, we're trying to teach guys to have the right eyes and look at the right things and react the right way.”