LAKE FOREST — As if preseason football wasn’t ugly enough, the points of emphasis from referees have led to a ridiculously high number of penalties. The Bears have been penalized 24 times through two games – they had 33 penalties in four preseason games last year.
The focus from fans and media has been on the increased attention to illegal contact in the defensive backfield, but “illegal use of hands," or “hands to the face” penalties are also being watched closely this preseason.
The added emphasis affects players on both sides of the line of scrimmage, though Matt Slauson has seen it impact defensive linemen more when they try to rush the passer.
“We originally thought that rule was going to affect us a lot more than the defense, but seems to be going that they’re calling a lot on the defense as well,” he said.
The Bears have been called six times for illegal use of hands this preseason – four times on defense, two on offense – compared to a total of three called on linemen all last season.
The other rule Slauson has to be cognizant of is that referees are paying close attention to any sudden movements by offensive linemen worthy of a false start flag.
Slauson said he got warned about it a couple times last year, and it’s not a new rule, just something that is being emphasized more.
“I can’t jolt over there and back,” he said, describing his movements in certain pre-snap situations. “I have to be nice and slow.”
Snapper emerges: With the Monday news of Chad Rempel getting waived, Brandon Hartson is the Bears’ long snapper as it stands, and the likely player to have the pressure of replacing Patrick Mannelly to start the season.
“It’s a blessing. It’s an opportunity that not a lot of people get to have,” Hartson said.
Hartson was with the Bears for a spell last summer and said he lost 15 pounds and got faster for this training camp, while getting some help from Mannelly on his blocking and footwork, among other snapping nuances.
“Coming from University of Houston, we never blocked, it was just straight down the field,” Hartson said. “Coming from Pat, during OTAs during a little break, he helped out a couple times, he helped me out a lot, footwork, keeping my body low, and helped me out with laces a little more.”
New return candidate: Darius Reynaud said this is a first for him, joining a team in the middle of the preseason, but that he worked to stay in shape just in case.
“I’ve still got a lot to show. I’ve been in the league for almost seven years,” Reynaud said. “I still have a lot left in the tank. I still feel like my high school days.”
Injury update: Jared Allen missed Tuesday’s practice with a shoulder bruise. Kyle Fuller (ankle), Jordan Mills (foot), Eben Britton (hamstring), Isaiah Frey (hamstring) and Brian de la Puente (knee) all remain out. Lance Briggs returned to practice after missing Monday with a knee contusion.