BOURBONNAIS — All the attention on the injuries Monday took away from another stellar defensive performance at Bears training camp. The offense took the early edge in a two-minute drill, but then the defense — especially the secondary — showed off its propensity for getting after the football.
The defensive backs scored several pass break-ups throughout practice, led by none other than Charles Tillman. “Peanut” forced three incomplete passes by getting his hands on the ball. The aggressive corner put on a clinic when it comes to getting in the passing lane.
“He’s a very skilled athlete, he’s very competitive, he’s super smart, he really knows what he’s doing out there he’s very, very consistent. What you see is what you get,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
Tillman’s ball skills rubbed off on his teammates. Jay Cutler heaved a pass down the sideline for a wide-open Earl Bennett before Chris Conte came diving in to break it up. A couple plays later, Major Wright dove to knock down a pass intended for Martellus Bennett.
Zack Bowman and Isaiah Frey joined in on the party with passes defensed. Even in the run game, the DBs got to the ball, with Kelvin Hayden getting a big roar from the crowd when he ripped the ball away from Matt Forte.
“The guys feed on takeaways, they feed on getting hands on balls,” Tucker said.
Hot Start: Jay Cutler’s first pass of the three opening practices have gone like this: interception, interception, incomplete pass. On Monday, he opened with a screen pass to Matt Forte for big yards. On the next play, Cutler found wide receiver Joe Anderson, who made a touchdown grab in between corners Tim Jennings and Major Wright. “As far as the practice went today, the offense really jumpstarted. We had a competitive two-minute period to start it. We had two explosive plays and scored on the second play,” Trestman said.
Dump-Offs in Style: We know the running backs figure to be big parts of the passing game, which should play right into Forte's skill set. On Monday, several offensive plays resulted in a swing pass to a running back. Whether it was a check-down or by-design, the quarterbacks are using that outlet to gain yards.
New Role: We talked earlier in camp about the difference for Devin Hester, who is no longer working with the offense and putting his sole focus into returning. While the team did drills on the main field, he could be seen catching “kicks” from a jugs machine. Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said Hester is taking the new role in stride. “His attitude has been great. He’s been great from the start. We talked early on,” he told reporters. “Again, it’s only three or four days of camp. We’ve got a lot of work to do but really like where his mental point is at.”