What was Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor thinking when Khalil Herbert brought the opening kickoff of last Sunday's season opener out from seven yards deep in the end zone?
"This will be exciting," Tabor said Wednesday.
Tabor was correct; the rookie sixth-round draft pick returned the kick 50 yards, setting the Bears up with excellent field position at their own 43.
"I thought it was good," Tabor said. "It obviously turned out good for us … I think it did a lot for his confidence. And I think that's good for a young player to experience that as opposed to the other way. The Rams are a good unit and they were playing aggressive. It was a nice cutback coming back there. I'm glad it worked."
Tabor has been pleased with the strides that Herbert has made since training camp.
"He's been getting better," Tabor said, "all the way from the practices against Miami, where at times he struggled to catch the ball, to now where he's looking more comfortable and doing a good job."
Numerous practice reps and eight kickoff returns in preseason games have helped fuel Herbert's rapid development.
"It's the process of a young returner, just catching on the JUGS and catching a live ball," Tabor said. "The one he dropped in the Miami practice … it's a tendency for a young player to pull his eyes because he wants to get going fast. I think what he has now done is settled in. We got him a lot of returns in the preseason and you saw him grow throughout the preseason. I just think he's getting comfortable with what we are doing, so that's been good."
Injury update: Nose tackle Eddie Goldman returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time since hurting his knee in a Sept. 6 workout. Outside linebacker Robert Quinn (back) and left tackle Jason Peters (quad) were also limited. Left tackle Larry Borom (ankle) did not practice due to an ankle injury he sustained against the Rams. Tight end Jimmy Graham was given a veterans' day off.
Pursuit and angles: Defensive coordinator Sean Desai estimated that the Bears missed 12 tackles on eight plays in last Sunday's 34-14 loss to the Rams. Multiple missed tackles came on a key third-and-13 play in the fourth quarter, enabling receiver Cooper Kupp to turn a short pass into a 15-yard gain and a crucial first down.
"That's a function of pursuit and angles," Desai told reporters. "Those are things that we will continue to correct and continue to fix … and then the yards after contact, we've got to limit when we get close to guys. You guys asked that question a couple weeks ago: How do you get better at tackling? And what did I say? You've got to close the distance with speed, and that's what we've got to continue to do."
While two glaring lapses in pass coverage resulted in Matthew Stafford touchdown passes of 67 and 56 yards, there weren't many more of those mistakes.
"There were probably only two or three major busts," Desai said. "A missed coverage isn't a one-on-one. That's not a missed coverage because that's this league. The offense is going to win their fair share of one-on-ones and the defense has to win their fair share of one-on-ones. So that's not a blown coverage. There was a very limited number of those and we got exposed on them because good teams and good quarterbacks expose you on those things."
Roster move: The Bears on Wednesday signed tackle Alex Taylor to their practice squad. The 6-8, 301-pounder appeared in one game with the Browns last season. He spent his first two years of college playing basketball at South Carolina State before switching to football as a junior.