BOURBOUNAIS, Ill. – It’s only practice and offensive players stay away from anti-social behavior like cut-blocks, but the 2014 Bears defense with all of its new moving parts continues to make statements, literally and figuratively, that were noticeably absent this time a year ago and absolutely nowhere to be found as the 2013 season ebbed to its disappointing conclusion.
Why it rates some extra attention at this early point is that the plays occurring all over the field are being made at the expense of one of the top NFL offenses (you could look that last part up). To name a few:
Will Sutton, DT
Friday’s defensive gems started early, with rookie defensive tackle Will Sutton turning in three straight superb pass rushes, a drill situation in which he was embarrassingly dominated in some of the early efforts against the likes of guard Matt Slauson. Sutton beat Slauson clean with a quick change-of-direction, came back on their next matchup and won with a bull rush against arguably the Bears’ best offensive lineman.
Sutton finished off his morning with a crushing power move to overwhelm reserve guard Ryan Groy from Wisconsin.
Lance Briggs, LB
Briggs broke up two passes outright, punctuating the second with a fist-pump after batting away a Jay Cutler pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett.
Briggs also keyed an all-around stout day by the base defensive package, as the front seven repeatedly stuffed run plays and pressured every Bears quarterback.
Shea McClellin/D.J. Willliams, LB’s
McClellin, working as the No. 1 strong-side linebacker, has delivered a number of impact blitzes, none more effective than coming free against running back Michael Ford in a “team” session. McClellin had to hold Ford up to keep from driving the overmatched tailback into Cutler.
Williams went flying by Cutler on a subsequent blitz, leaping with arms and legs outstretched, in what would have been a sack had quarterbacks been live targets. Williams also had a hand in solid pass defense in the “tight” red zone (inside the 10), forcing Cutler into one throwaway that appeared to land somewhere around Peotone.
Kelvin Hayden, CB
With both Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman held out for the day, Hayden got extended work at right cornerback. He already has had an outstanding camp in pass defense and added to his camp resume by meeting Matt Forte head-on as the running back turned what looked like a sealed left side.
Forte’s run ended at precisely that moment. Period.
"In the tight red zone, the defense amped it up," coach Marc Trestman said. "We had some contested throws, knockdowns, some real good plays defensively. For the last couple of days the offense has carried the two-minute. Today, you saw Lance make a great play — a couple of great plays — on the defensive side, getting to the ball, and that’s all good."