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Pagano offers take on key defensive players


Having worked with the Bears defense since the offseason program began in mid-April, new coordinator Chuck Pagano recently shared his thoughts on some of his key players.

Khalil Mack, outside linebacker
After being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Raiders last Sept. 1, Mack was voted first-team All Pro and selected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl in 2018. He led the Bears with 12.5 sacks, a career-high six forced fumbles and 18 quarterback hits. He also ranked second on the team with 10 tackles-for-loss.

Pagano on Mack:
"You've got a phenomenal athlete. He's a great football player, but he's a better teammate and he's a better person. He doesn't say much, but actions speak louder than words. Again, he's a great worker. He's a smart guy. He picks things up. He's not going to say much, but out here on the football field he's going to lead by example."

Roquan Smith, inside linebacker
Selected by the Bears with the eighth pick in last year's draft, Smith led the team with 121 tackles, three shy of Brian Urlacher's rookie record set in 2000. Smith also registered five sacks, eight tackles-for-loss, one interception and five pass breakups while playing in all 16 games with 15 starts. He added a second interception in the Bears' wild-card playoff loss to the Eagles.

Pagano on Smith:
"You talk about football character and football IQ. We know the measurables. He's one of the brightest, smartest guys I've been around for just a second-year player. He's phenomenal. He's very quiet. He doesn't say much. He'd be a great poker player because you can never read what's going on inside his head and doesn't show a lot of emotion. But he's absorbing everything. He takes everything in. The guy doesn't make mistakes. Out on the football field he does a lot of things you can't coach."

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix*, safety*
Clinton-Dix signed with the Bears March 14 after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Packers (2015-18) and Redskins (2018). The 26-year-old has appeared in 80 games with 74 starts and recorded 438 tackles, 28 pass breakups and 14 interceptions. He has three additional interceptions in seven postseason contests.

Pagano on Clinton-Dix:
"He was a Pro Bowler in 2016, so he's as good as he wants to be. He's got length. He's got great instincts. He's got ball skills. So everything you're looking for in a safety because he can play down in the box and he can play in the deep parts of the zone. Then you can match him up and put him on backs and tight ends. So he's got all the skill set necessary to do all those things."

Danny Trevathan, inside linebacker
Trevathan brought veteran leadership and playmaking ability to a defense last season that led the NFL in several statistical categories. The seventh-year pro finished second on the unit with 102 tackles while also registering two sacks, two interceptions, eight tackles-for-loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Pagano on Trevathan:
"[He's a] veteran guy, that guy that stands in front of your defense, (followed by) those 10 other guys in the whole room. They respect him, and he commands that respect. He's one of the hardest working guys out here. He knows the system inside and out. He's one of the first guys in. He's the last guy to leave. He does a great job from an accountability standpoint, a leadership standpoint, where he's going to hold himself accountable. But then in the right way, he can bring people along with him and hold each other accountable, hold his teammates accountable."

Leonard Floyd*, outside linebacker*
After recovering from a hand injury that limited him early last season, Floyd began performing like the player the Bears envisioned when they traded up to select him with the ninth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Georgia product returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown Nov. 4 against the Bills, the first pick and TD of his three-year NFL career. He recorded three sacks in a three-game stretch late in the season, including two of Aaron Rodgers in a 24-17 division-clinching win over the Packers Dec. 18.

Pagano on Floyd:
"Talking about abilities—reliability, accountability, coachability—availability is probably the No. 1 ability a player can have. That goes for everybody. [Floyd] is doing a great job. He takes care of himself. Weight room, the treatment, all those kinds of things. These guys get time on task and they become fourth-year guys, fifth-year guys, sixth-year guys, they get better at that. That's for anybody out here right now."