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5 Bears who impressed in preseason-opening win

Bears cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and defensive linemen Zacch Pickens and Terrell Lewis
Bears cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and defensive linemen Zacch Pickens and Terrell Lewis

Justin Fields combined with DJ Moore and Khalil Herbert to generate highlight reel plays in Saturday's preseason-opening win over the Titans. But here's five of their teammates who also delivered impactful performances at Soldier Field:

The rookie second-round pick showed his physicality and instincts in registering a team-leading seven tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup. 

Stevenson's PBU came in the first quarter when he broke quickly on an out route and nearly intercepted a Will Levis pass intended for receiver Colton Dowell along the Bears sideline. 

Stevenson's TFL occurred in the second period when he read a screen pass, fought off a block by receiver Racey McMath at the line of scrimmage and dropped running back Jonathan Ward for a three-yard loss. 

Stevenson drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on running back Julius Chestnut in the second quarter, but replays appeared to show that the Bears rookie led with his shoulder and made contact while still inbounds. 

"The reason's he's here is because of that, because of his length and because he's physical, and you saw that," said coach Matt Eberflus. "He made a lot of good tackles … even the tackle on the sideline. We'll have to look at that, but I thought that was good technique."

No, that wasn't Khalil Mack wearing No. 52 for the Bears Saturday at Soldier Field. But it certainly looked that way late in the first half when Lewis registered a strip/sack of quarterback Malik Willis, forcing a fumble that was recovered by rookie defensive tackle Zacch Pickens.

Lewis, a third-year pro who signed with the Bears late last season after being waived by the Rams, recorded a second sack late in the third quarter. His performance no doubt improved his chances to earn a roster spot on a defense that needs to produce more pressure on the quarterback than it did last season.

"A lot of good plays by him," Eberflus said. "He can rush the passer; we know that for sure."

The rookie third-round pick from South Carolina sacked Levis on third-and-9 late in the first quarter, forcing the Titans to punt. Pickens eluded a blocker after working with Lewis on a line stunt.

"That was so satisfying because I wanted it and I got it," Pickens said. "We'd been practicing that, and finally getting it was amazing."

Pickens also recorded four tackles and the aforementioned fumble recovery. Like fellow rookie defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr., Pickens is adjusting to a gap-shooting Bears defense after playing in a read-and-react two-gap system in college.

"I think he's focusing on the first task at hand and that's get-off," Eberflus said. "That's when he's at his best. He beats them to the punch and gets off on the football, starts his day on the other side of the line of scrimmage, then good things happen. Then they're off balance. He can use his hands, use his long arms."

The fourth-year pro seemingly enhanced his chances of earning a roster spot with an impressive performance Saturday. Gipson compiled 1.0 sack and three quarterback hits and drew a holding penalty that prevented a sack late in the first half. 

Gipson was somewhat pleased with his performance but vowed to correct his mistakes Saturday when the Bears visit the Colts in Indianapolis. 

"I think it was a decent job," Gipson said. "I think I left some plays out there. But just play with a bunch of perseverance and play with my head on fire. I'm going to appreciate it for the next 24 hours and get back in the film [Sunday] and get ready for Indy this week."

A regular contributor on special teams last season when he tied for third on the unit with seven tackles, Jones continued to excel in that key phase against the Titans. The second-year pro produced tackles on all three of the Bears' kickoffs in the first quarter, including stops at the Tennessee 17 and 16.

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