Mel Tucker finished about five minutes of Q-and-A with a semi-circle of media around him Thursday following Bears practice at the Walter Payton Center. The Defensive Coordinator probably thought he was done in his first public comments since his defense allowed 499 yards (209 rushing) two Sundays ago in Washington, but a few more follow-up questions remained from five or six of us reporters.
He fielded a handful more until I decided to toss a question his way that many had wondered about for more than a week: Considering that performance, and the prospect of the foreseeable future without his best player, Lance Briggs, how much thought was given to at least having a couple of walk-throughs last week, rather than six days completely off? The Collective Bargaining Agreement only requires four days off.
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Without providing his exact quote (as I was without a recording device), Tucker said, in so many words, that this week's five full days of practice coming off the bye week begin with he and position coaches thoroughly going over individual assignments and scenarios with every defensive player in a classroom setting through their video cut-ups. Those days often start at 6:30. Most players are out of the building by 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon. The 90 minutes to two hours they spend on the field in team settings at practice are often spent at "game" speed, pitting offense versus defense, when individual and fundamental work is done, and it's not special teams time.
The message this week before facing an even more potent offense has been for each individual to take care of his own assignments better, and not concern themselves with having a teammate's "back," even if the number of inexperienced defenders (in the league and/or with each other) seems to increase with each passing week as the injury toll has increased.