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Bears bringing feistiness, edge to practice field

Bears rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson
Bears rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson

WESTFIELD, Ind. – During a special teams period in Wednesday's joint practice with the Colts, Bears rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson leveled Indianapolis veteran nickel back Tony Brown.

Brown took exception to the hit and let Stevenson know about it. Several Bears players chirped back at Brown, defending their young teammate.

"He was just finishing his rep," said nickel back Kyler Gordon. "We always talk about finish, finish, finish, and they didn't like how he finished. That's what the Bears are. We're going to go out there and finish. I'm proud of him. He did his thing."

Late in practice, veteran safety Eddie Jackson delivered another big hit, breaking up a pass to receiver Michael Pittman Jr. along the sideline.

The two plays were emblematic of the feistiness and edge the Bears have been displaying—particularly on defense—since the start of training camp.

"I just feel like the threshold just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger," Gordon said. "[We've] got a lot of energy, a lot of guys, a lot of loud mouths on our team. People want to go and get at it and stuff like that, so the energy keeps rising the more we get toward the season. As soon as we get there and we start off with the Packers, it's going to be great. You're going to see bits and pieces about it in the preseason, and once it gets going it's going to go."

Stevenson, a second-round pick from Miami, has been bringing energy to the defense since he first stepped on the practice field. The 6-foot, 214-pounder also has demonstrated excellent ball skills, instincts and athleticism.

"He's a big, long corner, big jam press and he can run with guys," Gordon said. "He's been holding his own the whole entire time in camp, and it shows. He's a good player, and I'm excited to see him play in our system."

The Bears took to the fields at the Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield, Ind. Wednesday evening for the first of two joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams loves the tenacity that Stevenson has been playing with—as long as he doesn't hurt the team by drawing a penalty.

"What I value most is production," Williams said. "What I value most is hustle. What I value most is getting lined up. And then the extra stuff, I want guys to bring their personality—but make sure that personality, that feistiness is within the bounds of how we play because part of our 'HITS' principle is being smart, having self-control. So I love the feistiness, I love the grit, the physicalness. I just want to make sure it's between the whistles, and if it is, I'm all for it."

The Bears will continue preparing for Saturday night's preseason game in Indianapolis with a second and final joint practice with the Colts Thursday evening. The defense is looking to build on a productive performance in last weekend's preseason-opening win over the Titans in which it generated four takeaways and eight sacks.

"We need to fit up the run a little bit better," Williams said. "I loved that we hit the quarterback at a high rate, so that's improvement. I love the way we took away the football. That's improvement. And we took it away. There were some plays that they just didn't give it to us, we took it from them. So I love those."

Williams was also pleased that the defense held Tennessee to a 33.3 percent conversion rate (5 of 15) on third down.

"Some positives there, and how the group came together and played together," he said. "It's a tight-knit group. When you have a tight-knit group that enjoys being around each other, you always have a chance for success."

While defensive end DeMarcus Walker returned to practice in limited fashion Wednesday, middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and safety Jaquan Brisker remain sidelined with undisclosed injuries. But Gordon, for one, is not concerned.

"Nah, not at all," he said. "I feel great. Definitely like the spot that we're in. Me and Tremaine still talk. Me and 'Brisk' still talk, and they're talking to us. We get walk-through reps. We're talking when we're going to dinner. All of the above. All of the camaraderie. I feel like there's no drop-off."