Urlacher: Creating takeaways 'first nature' for Bears
By Vaughn McClure
1:31 p.m. CDT, October 19, 2012
Ask Lance Briggs which player on defense owns the best hands and the Chicago Bears linebacker is sure to include himself.
"I don’t know who’s got the best hands, but whomever’s got the best hands, I’m definitely top 3,’’ Briggs said. ``I’ll tell you the much.’’
Fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher responded to Briggs’ bold claim.
"I’m No. 1. I just never get around the ball,’’ Urlacher said with a laugh. ``He said he’s No. 3? Which guys did he put in front of him? I’m putting myself in front of him. … Well then, I’m top 3 as well.’’
There is no argument about how the league's third-best defense has played through five games. There have been enough turnovers to go around.
Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman carry streaks of two consecutive games with a "Pick 6’’ into Monday night’s matchup against the Lions. Safety Major Wright also returned an interception for a score this season.
The Bears lead the NFL with 17 takeaways and possess a league-high 283 takeways since 2004 – when Lovie Smith took over as head coach. The total includes 170 interceptions and 113 fumble recoveries.
``Coach Smith talks about getting the football out every day,’’ Urlacher said. ``He comes into our huddle (and) he always, `Hey strip the ball. Strip the ball.’ We catch it, we score with it every day in practice. That’s the mentality around here. That’s how he was from Day 1 when he got here.’’
Urlacher was asked whether creating takeaways is second nature now.
"It’s first nature,’’ he said.
As important as takeaways are for the defense, the bigger challenge Monday night is likely to involve containing Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.
"Calvin’s tough,’’ Urlacher said. ``He had a big game against us last year up there, that (73-yard TD) catch. We’ve done a pretty good job, for the most part, against him those other games.
"He’s just a great player. You have to game-plan for him, do different things in your scheme. We’re lucky we have Peanut (Tillman). We can somehow match up to him a little bit. … But you’re never going to cover him with just one guy.’’