One week into Bears training camp, four words stand out to describe most of the new additions on the defense: “big guy who moves.” It’s no secret the Bears coveted size and speed in all their personnel additions, from free agency to the draft, and now we’ve gotten a glimpse at how it can all come together.
Over the past two days, the Bears defense has started to dominate practice, and the big guys have a lot to do with it. Jaquan Brisker, a big strong safety, has notched several takeaways and been Johnny on the spot for what would’ve been big hits, if big hits were allowed at this time of year. Tyrique Stevenson, a big corner, has used his length for PBUs and interceptions. He’s used his strength to jam receivers and prevent them from creating separation. Terell Smith has earned praise throughout the summer for his physical traits and has emerged as a legit competitor for a starting cornerback job.
There have only been two padded practices, so rookie defensive tackle Gervon Dexter hasn’t had many opportunities to show what he can really do, but his imposing size is unmistakable. In limited time he’s flashed how he can use that size to either overpower his opponent, or bait them into overextending themselves so he can nimbly work past them.
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“I mean he benches like 500 pounds,” said Justin Jones. “I don't know what to tell you. He's a big, strong guy. He's manhandling guys. You can't coach that, obviously. You can coach him on technical things, but the physicality he brings, you can't coach that. That's just natural.”
Then there’s the man in the middle, Tremaine Edmunds.
“I mean goodness gracious,” said Justin Fields. “We had one play today where if it was any other linebacker in the country, (the pass catcher) would have been open. Just his presence, he's so huge.”
Edmunds is as big a presence as you’ll find on the defense and should help the Bears lock down passing lanes in the middle of the field. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy insinuated Edmunds’ size alone inhibits their ability to run certain plays.
“We have a scheme that should take advantage of somebody in the middle of the field, but the dude’s like 7-foot tall. And the wingspan—that’s not happening... He shrinks the windows for sure in the pass game, and his ability to play sideline-to-sideline just really challenges an offense to be able to capture the edges.”
The size all over the field is starting to give the Bears defense a tangible identity. They’re physical, they’re imposing and they’re aggressive. They’re going to use their size to make opponents uncomfortable. Now that the pads are on, we’re starting to see it. We’ll see if it continues throughout the summer.
“We got (big) guys all around,” said Edmunds. “That’s amazing. You got big guys that take up a lot of space. That eats up a lot of ground, and that’s dogs that can play football. That’s special and definitely something to be excited about.”