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Defense continues strong preseason

While the quarterback position has garnered most of the attention this summer, the Bears defense has quietly had an excellent preseason.

After only allowing a field goal on eight possessions through three quarters against the Broncos and just one touchdown on five first-half drives versus the Cardinals, the defense held the Titans scoreless through three quarters Sunday.


Bears outside linebacker Willie Young tackles Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota Sunday.

"I've been pleased with them all preseason," said coach John Fox. "I thought [Sunday] was probably our best outing against what I would consider a very talented Tennessee offense."

In the first half of Sunday's 19-7 win over the Titans, the Bears built a 12-0 lead behind a stingy defense that allowed just 130 yards and five first downs. Tennessee crossed the 50 on only one of five possessions and never advanced beyond the Bears' 22-yard line.

"The guys are just getting a little bit closer and guys are playing together more, said defensive end Akiem Hicks, who registered one of the Bears' four sacks. "The guys are learning each other's strengths and weaknesses. I think once that all culminates together and we figure each other out that precise amount, then I think we are going to be great."

Roster moves: The Bears on Monday signed long-snapper Jeff Overbaugh and waived/injured long-snapper Patrick Scales, who suffered a serious knee injury Sunday against the Titans.

A four-year contributor at San Diego State, Overbaugh entered the NFL last year as an undrafted free agent with the Rams. But he failed to make their 53-man roster. The 6-2, 236-pounder spent part of the offseason with the Broncos.

Scales, who was injured while covering a punt in the second quarter in Tennessee, played in all 16 games with the Bears last season as well as five contests in 2015.

In a groove: After sitting out the Bears' previous game in Arizona with an eye injury, Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard saw his most extensive action of the preseason in Tennessee, rushing for 45 yards on 12 carries. The 2016 fifth-round draft pick from Indiana played sparingly in the exhibition opener, rushing for four yards on three attempts.

"I felt pretty good," Howard said. "The first game I didn't play that much and I missed the last game. It felt good to kind of get in a groove."

Starters generally don't play in the preseason finale, which means the next time Howard steps on the field likely will be Sept. 10 when the Bears open the regular season by hosting the Falcons.

"I got in a little bit of a groove and got my rhythm a little bit [Sunday] and I feel like I will be good to go for the first game," Howard said.

Third-down success: The Bears converted 50 percent of their third-down opportunities (7 of 14) Sunday, something they accomplished in only three of 16 games last season.

"I just felt like things were flowing a little bit easier," said receiver Kevin White, whose 19-yard reception on third-and-10 late in the first half sustained a drive that resulted in a field goal. "We worked our butts off all week and I feel like everybody did a good job."

On their first possession of the game, the Bears converted 3-of-3 third downs on a 15-play, 96-yard touchdown drive—all on completions from Mike Glennon to receiver Kendall Wright.

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