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Bears defense improving on weekly basis

Quintin Demps is pleased with the progress the Bears defense is making, but the veteran safety understands that the unit needs to keep improving.


Safety Quintin Demps set a career high with six interceptions last season with the Texans.

"I think we're getting better and better each and every week," Demps said Monday after practice. "We've still got to concentrate on getting turnovers, running to the ball and executing a little bit better."

The Bears have performed well on defense in their first two preseason games. They only allowed a field goal on eight possessions through three quarters against the Broncos and then yielded just one touchdown on five drives in the first half last Saturday night in Arizona.

Demps, who signed with the Bears in March, is one of several newcomers on defense. The team also added cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in free agency and selected safety Eddie Jackson in the fourth round of the draft.

The new players join a core of returners led by defensive end Akiem Hicks; nose tackle Eddie Goldman; outside linebackers Leonard Floyd, Willie Young, Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston and Sam Acho; and inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan.

With so many new players, Demps acknowledged that the defense won't gel overnight.

"I think it takes all of training camp to get ready, all the preseason," Demps said. "I mean, that's what it's for, taking our time, building the group together and getting ready for the season."

Rising star: Demps has been particularly impressed with Jackson, a rookie who has taken some first-team reps alongside Demps at safety. In four seasons at Alabama, Jackson registered 130 tackles, nine interceptions, 13 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

"He's doing well, especially as a rookie," Demps said. "Vic [Fangio's] defense is not easy to pick up, but [Jackson] hasn't had many MEs [mental errors], which is encouraging. He's playing really well, getting his hands on some balls and stuff like that. I'm proud of him."

Jackson scored three touchdowns in college on interception returns of 50 and 93 yards in 2015 and 55 yards in 2016. He showed the same knack for finding the end zone while returning punts last year for the first time in his career, scoring TDs on returns of 85 and 79 yards.

"He has all the tools to be a playmaker in this league," Demps said. "But it's all mental. You've got to get the mental reps in and learn from his mistakes for sure."

Complete back: Rookie running back Tarik Cohen is known for his slippery elusiveness. But last Saturday in Arizona the 5-6, 181-pounder not only made defenders miss but also broke tackles.

"You always can't judge a book by its cover," said coach John Fox. "Whether it was in underwear or now in pads, he's very explosive, he's elusive. He did that in college, albeit at a smaller level, he was still very successful at it. He's proven he can do it. Now he's continued to get better and get more comfortable in what we're doing."

With Jordan Howard back in Chicago nursing a minor eye injury, Cohen started against the Cardinals and rushed for 77 yards on 11 carries in just over one quarter of play, including runs of 25, 16 and 16 yards.

Kicking derby: Recently-signed kicker Roberto Aguayo missed his only field-goal attempt Saturday night, a 49-yarder that sailed wide right.

"I think he didn't get quite through it," Fox said. "I don't know that the operation was poor, whether it was the snap or the hold. It was a little bit low and inside, but we got it down. We've just got to get better. It's the first time he's worked with those guys, so it's not automatic by any stretch. We'll just continue to work him."

Incumbent Connor Barth has converted both of his field-goal tries this preseason, a 25-yarder against the Broncos and a 42-yarder versus the Cardinals.

"He's hit the ball good in practice," Fox said. "He's hit the ball good in two preseason games. We'll just continue to evaluate that over the next two preseason games."

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