Bears 'D' turns three batted balls into picks

BOURBONNAIS — At the first day of training camp, Henry Melton said he likes to make Jay Cutler mad by batting down practices. During Tuesday’s practice, Melton batted a ball to himself and returned it for a score, one of three such interceptions for Cutler.

“It was luck," Melton said. “I just put my hand up and it came to me. It was in the air forever. I just caught it, and scored.” 

Later on in practice, Cutler attempted a throw that Shea McClellin made a spectacular play on, jumping in the passing lane and snatching the pass into his stomach before returning it for a touchdown.

During the final set of team drills, another Cutler pass was deflected at the line and intercepted by Isaiah Frey. Chris Conte also had a pick-six in 7-on-7 drills.

The tipped balls create an odd situation for the offense in terms of how they view the play. No one on that side of the ball wants to see three batted balls turned into interceptions, but the D-line is encouraged not to bat the passes. Since they have to hold up in their pass rush to avoid hitting the quarterback, those passing lanes are normally going to be open, and head coach Marc Trestman said he doesn’t read too much into it.

“I don’t get caught up in it right now because the pass rushers stop because they don’t want to get in the way, and their hands go up or they jump up in the air for the ball,” he said. “We try to discourage jumping up in the air for the ball so we can complete plays and let everybody go to the ball and finish, but we allow the guys to keep their hands up.

“Certainly we’re disappointed that we didn’t get the plays off. We hope it doesn’t carry over to the season. It usually doesn’t because those lanes are created, but it’s good to have adversity like that.”

Cutler told reporters that the offense needs to “remind them again” when referring to the defense avoiding getting in the passing lanes.

“It’s frustrating offensively because it’s probably not going to happen in a game, but we’ve got to battle through it and we know we’re going to the right guy, going to the right spot, just we’re getting tipped here and there, couple bad decisions,” Cutler said. “But like I said, it’s camp, and we just have to keep working on the things we’re struggling with and keep doing all the good things.”

While the offense didn’t seem too concerned with the results from Tuesday’s practice that had more interceptions than explosive offensive plays, it sure helped the defense control things.

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