The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

July 31, 2013

No Lovie, Urlacher as Bears defense returns

BOURBONNAIS — Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman admit change can be difficult, even when it’s necessary.

Like all the Bears in coach Marc Trestman’s first camp, Briggs and Tillman are finding they have to adapt. The two most senior Bears on defense in terms of time spent in Chicago are trying to help convert the Bears’ cover-2 system that served them so well under former coach Lovie Smith into an equally effective and similar scheme under Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

”I am buying in,” Briggs said. “We’re all buying in. I’m all in, all in to the program.”

If that doesn’t happen, there are a handful of players who could be gone next season. The list of those in the final years of their deals include Tillman, cornerback Tim Jennings, defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive end Corey Wootton and safety Major Wright.

”No one is safe,” Tillman said. “I am just here playing football. I’ve got one year. Do my year and be done. If they want to bring me back, they’ll bring me back. If not, go somewhere else. That is kind of the reality of it.”

The scheme can make the difference. Tucker kept all the terminology the same, and the team continues to emphasize turnovers.

”It’s the same philosophy,” Tillman said. “You just don’t want to use last year’s success, if that makes any sense.”

Tillman meant the Tucker version of the cover-2 can’t simply count on being as productive as when they gave up 277 points, third best in the league last year, or came within one defensive score of tying the NFL single-season record of 10. They’ll have to earn it on the field.

”Last year was a hell of a year,” Tillman said. “One of the things, we have to create a new identity once again.”

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