BOURBONNAIS — Marc Trestman has a good dilemma during training camp. While trying to get his offense to improve ball security, the defense’s propensity to go after the ball is making things difficult.
During the second day of practice, S Anthony Walters appared to be the one to strip RB Aramando Allen, and CB Sherrick McManis scooped up the fumble. As every offensive play finishes, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker hollers at the players to continue going after the ball, another carryover from what we saw when Lovie Smith was in charge.
The turnovers have somewhat clouded the fact that the offense overall has looked smooth and efficient during the first two days, and Trestman said the next step is protecting the football.
“As I told the team, we’ve got to take care of the football offensively. It’s never going to get any tougher to take care of the football than it is at our practices with our defense,” Trestman told reporters after practice. “If we can take care of the football there, we’re going to feel good about taking care of it each and every play.
“So that’s the No. 1 priority is that when you’re watching practice out here that these guys are putting the ball away and we’re keeping the ball off the ground.”
On the other hand, though, Trestman is pleased that the defense is picking up where it left off in the department it’s most known for, and that’s taking the ball away. The Bears were tops in the league last year with 44 takeaways.
“I’ve been in the meetings, I know the emphasis there is on it. I know the pride the defense has had here for so many years,” Trestman said. “With new players, we have a new team, but we certainly want to stay consistent. By doing it in practice, you have guys doing it who have been around it, that’s a teaching lesson to the new guys that this is certainly something that is so important — as important as it is to protect the football at the same time, we’re trying to create turnovers any way we can. Our defense did it today on two or three occasions.”
Safety Brandon Hardin has never been with a team that concentrates more on stripping the ball, and he said part of the credit for the team's success goes to the best at doing it, cornerback Charles Tillman.
“I’ve never experienced any team that emphasized (stripping the ball) this much, throughout high school and college. Really, we’re learning from Peanut Tillman,” Hardin said. “They coined that term ‘Peanut Punch.’ It’s something that we see on film that we try to emulate. Whether it is just a punch or a strip, kind of the attitude of always going after the ball that really starts to feed off on all his players. I know we have that mentality, just being that Chicago Bears defense, going after the ball and getting turnovers.”