The attention of the Bears has been and will necessarily be on the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. But in the draft, the teams immediately ahead or behind are sources of particular concern, and this year those happen to include the Lions and Packers.Those NFC North division rivals have draft issues that relate directly to the Bears:Detroit - The investment in the defensive line (Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch) point away from the area and toward a secondary that has effectively negated a lot of the pressure from the defensive line. The Lions have concerns at both running back and defensive back and are expected to go for help in one of those two areas.Green Bay - A one-time fearsome pass rush was anything but in 2011 and this draft has a number of prospects who fit the hybrid 3-4 scheme of coordinator Dom Capers. GeneralmanagerTed Thompson has enough firepower on offense and needs to find the answer on the other side from Clay Matthews.Minnesota - With picks No. 1 and 2 out of the way, this is the de facto first pick of the draft. The question forgeneral managerRick Spielman will be whether to get someone to protect QB Christian Ponder (USC tackle Matt Kalil), catch Ponders passes (Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon) or defend other teams passes (LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne). Or trade down and get a lot of guys, including maybe Notre Damewide receiver Michael Floyd.But unless Detroit (No. 23) or Green Bay (No. 28) wants to make a strong move to move up, they are not immediate concerns to the Bears next Thursday evening. Some other teams are, however:No. 18 San Diego ChargersThe Chargers have seen slippage on offense with departures on the line (Marcus McNeil) and at receiver (Vincent Jackson) in particular. Larry English has not developed atoffensive linebackerbecause of injuries, but while it is difficult to see the Chargers going defensive-front at No. 1 for a third time in four years, they have shown the willingness to stock up on pass rushers.Comment: Some concern here for the Bears and their hope for a premier pass rusher.No. 17 Cincinnati BengalsYoure not sure if the Bengals think they got enough in Benjarvus Green-Ellis to replace Cedric Benson but they got results going hard for receiver help last year (A.J. Green) and they have seen the damage the Steelers have done with the ability to strike through the air.Comment: Not a major threat to address pass rush with the kind of player the Bears are after.No. 16New York JetsThe Jets havent taken a No. 1 pass rusher since Vernon Gholston in 2008 and their defense has gotten the worse for it. They have gone defense with their first pick in four of the last five drafts but only once for a linebacker for Rex Ryans 3-4 scheme.Comment: At this point of the first round a couple of good pass rushers are expected to be gone and the Jets are still looking for an elite impact player off the edge.
The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest.
All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries.
Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Here is the full training camp schedule:
Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history.
Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles.
“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”
The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.
“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”
The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year.
The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total.
“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”