Defensive coaches share thoughts on players

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – One day after Bears offensive position coaches spoke to the media for the first time in training camp, their defensive counterparts followed on Tuesday. Here are some of the best quotes from those interviews.

Mark DeLeone (Inside linebackers)

On Roquan Smith’s growth as he enters his second season:
“I just think it’s every day becoming more adjusted to being a pro linebacker. I don’t think there’s one specific thing. I think he’s just doing a great job every single day of the steady incremental improvement and getting better. I know coach [Matt] Nagy has talked about that, [general manager] Ryan Pace, steady incremental improvement. I think Roquan has really bought into that and every single day he’s getting a little bit better.”

On working with veteran Danny Trevathan:
“Anybody including myself that gets to be around Danny Trevathan every day gets a little bit better. I remember the very first day I met him when I got the job here, I think I had chills after I left. He’s just such an impressive guy, just the way he talks. Danny’s such a charismatic guy and everybody believes in him that’s around him.”

Ted Monachino (Outside linebackers)

On Khalil Mack’s work ethic:
“Nobody has a higher expectation of how they play than Khalil. I don’t have a higher expectation of Khalil than he has of himself, so every day he goes out there to prove it and every day he goes out there to make sure everybody understands that he’s worth it. And the time and the resources that this organization put into that player, he’s trying to make sure that that all pays dividends for us.”

On Mack’s combination of talent and desire to be great:
“It’s nice to have that leader by example in your position group. But his attitude and his leadership skill translates to both sides of the ball, translates to the locker room, translates to special teams, and all of our guys look at him and look to him for that kind of leadership.”

On Leonard Floyd:
“I think Leonard is prepared anyway to make a quantum leap in his play. I think that last year there were a lot of things on his plate and it’s not any different this year. There still will be. But what we try to do is make it as tight as we can, as simple and sound as we can so he has an opportunity to play fast. When he plays fast he’s really hard to handle because he’s so long and athletic and flexible. He’s got a great set of skills as a pass rusher and a really natural tool box there, but we’re giving him a couple little things especially at the top of the pocket and late in the down that are really going to help him.”

Jay Rodgers (Defensive line)

On Akiem Hicks’ development into a Pro Bowl player:
“I think it’s been a process over the three or four years he’s been here, from when he got here to where he is today. He’s continued to work hard. He studies the game. I think he understands the game of football better now than he did four years ago. And we give him some opportunities to make plays that may not be exactly his responsibility, but because he’s smart enough, he knows when to take liberties and when not to.”

On Hicks’ combination of size and athleticism:
“When he walks through the door the first time, immediately you know how big he is. What I didn’t understand watching the film was how athletic he was. So when you have those two traits, I’m always looking for dancing bears. I’ve said that in the past. And he is exactly the body type, the mentality. He brings the nasty to the defense that nobody else does that I’ve been a part of in any place and he’s going to continue to get better.”

On second-year pro Bilal Nichols’ development:
“I think he’s made a lot of growth. It’s calmer to him now. He sees things faster. His feet are moving faster. His hands are stronger. He’s got that look in his eyes like, ‘I’ve been here before.’ He’s going to continue to develop. Football’s important to him, and he’s just going to continue to get better.”

On Nichols getting stronger:
“Anytime you can be bigger and leaner, it helps. You don’t have any wasted body movement whatsoever. He came in in shape ready to go in the offseason. The expectation is he’ll take another jump forward and I expect that for him.”

Sean Desai (Safeties)

On the impact Eddie Jackson has made in his first two NFL seasons:
“I think a lot of his God-given talents have enabled that. He’s a guy who really understands football. He understands the bigger picture, understands all the guys’ roles in the defense. When you can get to that understanding, you know where you can go make a play and he takes advantage of those opportunities.”

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