Peppers likes way defense coming together
By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:36 p.m. CDT, October 5, 2012
Julius Peppers hasn't missed a game since 2009, so a nagging foot or ankle injury isn't going to slow him down.
At least this year, Peppers has enough support around him to rest on the sideline a few plays without the defense missing a beat.
"It's good to see guys making plays,'' Peppers said. "It's not necessarily about me or how I feel about (the support). It's just good to see everyone out there contributing.''
Each member of the defensive line active for at least three of the first four games has a sack, and four of the seven have at least one tackle for a loss. Peppers has 2 1/2 sacks, five quarterback pressures, eight tackles and a fumble recovery despite dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Then Peppers injured an ankle in Monday's 34-18 victory over the Cowboys. He was held out of practice once this week and limited the other two days but is set to play Sunday against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
"I don't even remember what happened or how it happened, but it just tweaked,'' Peppers said of his ankle. "I'm not worried about it.''
Peppers is not overly concerned about the Jaguars, either, although the defense is sure to be tested in a different manner come Sunday. The Jaguars are expected to run the ball plenty with Maurice Jones-Drew, the league's seventh-leading rusher. Jones-Drew has 72 rushing attempts — just two less attempts than the previous four Bears opponents had combined.
Peppers obviously respects the 5-foot-7, 210-pounder's ability.
"Tough guy; physical guy,'' Peppers said. "Doesn't go down easy. He fights for those extra yards. It's going to be a good challenge for us to see really where the run defense is at.''
The Bears enter Sunday's game boasting the NFL's third-best run defense, allowing just 67.3 rushing yards per game. They held DeMarco Murray to 24 yards on 11 carries Monday night, but the Cowboys were forced to abandon the running game after falling behind.
In the coming weeks, the Bears will face two of the league's top running backs in the Titans' Chris Johnson (Nov. 4) and the Texans' Arian Foster (Nov. 11).
"We want to knock the run out anyway,'' Peppers said. "That's the defense's objective every game. So far, the (run defense) has been pretty good. It still has to get a little better. But I think it has been decent.''
It could be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli uses rookie defensive end Shea McClellin against the Jaguars. McClellin has shown outstanding explosiveness as a pass rusher yet needs some fine-tuning against the run. He was in the backfield on an end around against the Cowboys but couldn't secure the tackle.
"I have to finish, man," McClellin said. "In terms of my run defense, it could be better. I just have to continue to work on it."
I have to admit they look more agressive this year and the turnovers we are producing are great.
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