The No. 1 defense shut out the San Diego Chargers, mauled it a little actually, and that was without its two best linemen, Henry Melton (concussion) Julius Peppers (hamstring). Every position group delivered impact plays and combined with special teams to produce four takeaways.
Nate Collins led an attack that had three sacks of the Philip Rivers, Collins filling in again for Melton and finishing with three solo tackles, one for a loss, and a quarterback hit to go with his second sack of the preseason…. Shea McClellin was unable to hold the point of attack against the run but made something of his extra playing time. McClellin had a 10-yard sack on a speed move around the edge that produced a fumble and added four solo tackles, one for loss….Corey Wootton got the better of San Diego rookie tackle D.J. Fluker for a clean inside rush for a sack and delivered a tackle for loss and quarterback hit as well.
The performances beyond the starters was not impressive. Tackle Zach Minter had just one assisted tackle and rookie end Cornelius Washington did not make the preliminary stat sheet despite some added playing time…. No reserve lineman had more than one tackle.
Trending: The play of the front four took a step up even without its biggest dogs. What was very evident was the confidence level and continued improvement by Wootton.
Jon Bostic had a game of extremes. He made mistakes on two San Diego touchdowns, with poor awareness in pass coverage on one. His hit on receiver Mike Willie was bombastic although the hope has to be that he doesn’t draw a fine for leading with helmet. His closing speed, however, was jaw-dropping…. James Anderson had three solo tackles and a pass defensed, notable because Anderson is a strong-side linebacker but coaches are leaving him on the field in nickel and taking Bostic out.
J.T.Thomas blocked a punt and was a factor in special teams generally to push him into a good roster shot….Blake Costanzo remains a special-teams fixture with a solo tackle and fumble recovery, keeping himself on the depth chart at middle linebacker as well…. Rookie Khaseem Greene had three solo tackles in extended playing time with Bostic into the third quarter.
Trending: Things happen with Bostic on the field, good and bad. He is playing with speed and clear direction, even if it’s a little off. His performance amid a core of talented veterans is a major arrow pointing sharply up for this defense.
Chris Conte’s diving interception in the first quarter put the Bears in scoring position, which was squandered when Jay Cutler threw an interception on the next play….Zackary Bowman deflected two passes.
Sherrick McManis let receiver Mike Willie get inside him on a slant route for a 2-yard touchdown. Tom Zbikowski did his slim roster chances no good when he was out of position and allowed a virtually uncontested fourth-quarter TD pass to Willie….Illinois State safety Tom Nelson had four solos and an assist to get some solid play on film for other teams.
Trending: The pass rush made everyone in the secondary a little better.