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Defense dominates in the red zone Friday

Published: Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 7:36 p.m. CDT
Caption
(H. Rick Bamman file photo – hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Bears' Lance Briggs heads to the locker room after an OTA practice on June 11 in Lake Forest.

BOURBONNAIS – Tim Jennings (quad) and Charles Tillman (coach’s decision) were hardly bystanders during Friday’s practice. How could they be, watching their first-team defense, albeit undermanned, dominate in the red zone.

The cornerbacks joined in cheering on their teammates, and giving pointers to the younger corners, who stood their ground and helped keep the offense almost scoreless near the goal line.

“I don’t know if they scored one time in the red zone,” Jennings said. “It was physical out there. We competed our butts off and that’s a good sign. We’re going to watch film, see what we can improve on and then hopefully continue what we’ve got going.”

Bears coach Marc Trestman said that on Thursday, the offense had its way in the red zone, but that the defense “amped it up” to end this week of Bourbonnais practices.

“We had some contested throws, knockdowns, some real good plays defensively, and for the last couple of days the offense has carried the two-minute,” he said.

Jennings knows it can be a lot to process for the young corners, and he’s doing his best to make things easier.

“We’re just trying to get them a feel for the game. We don’t do a lot of complex things to kind of confuse them,” he said. “The young guys are where they need to be, we’re just trying to get them the feel, getting them a step quicker, knowing what the tendencies of offense are like, the style of defense we’re playing.”

One of those younger corners who had a good day was Demontre Hurst, who contested a fade to Josh Bellamy and later had an interception, receiving praise from Trestman.

Safety switch: Adrian Wilson got his first reps with the starters, playing alongside Danny McCray on Friday. Trestman said it is all a part of the open competition and that players will continue to shuffle throughout camp and the preseason.

Briggs comes up big: A day after his tongue-in-cheek remarks about not being at a Pro Bowl level anymore, Lance Briggs had at least three deflected passes, including one that landed in the arms of McCray for an interception. “Today, you saw Lance make a great play – a couple of great plays – on the defensive side, getting to the ball, and that’s all good,” Trestman said.

Attendance report: Roberto Garza was excused for personal reasons, but should be at Saturday’s practice. Brian de la Puente was the starting center, with Michael Ola continuing to play first-team right guard for Kyle Long. … Chris Conte and Craig Steltz remained out, along with Eben Britton.

Trenches update: The one-on-one pass rush drills were quick on Friday, with both Jordan Mills and Jermon Bushrod winning their reps against Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen, respectively, a very good sign going forward. Jeremiah Ratliff continued his domination in the drill, blowing past Ola. David Bass used an inside move to get past newbie Graham Pocic. Cornelius Washington showed off his potential with his speed around the edge against James Brown, but Brown easily won the next rep. Speaking of the trenches, Will Sutton bulldozed Joe Long during a rep in the red-zone drills.

Quick hits: The Bears piped in crowd noise for the second day in a row. … The top play for the offense came when Jay Cutler lofted a ball down the left sideline for Marquess Wilson, who jumped to grab it away from Kelvin Hayden. … Hayden had an impressive, physical run stop during team drills. … Saturday night’s practice will be at Soldier Field for Family Fest. The Bears have an off day Sunday before returning Monday to Bourbonnais for an afternoon practice

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