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Quick Hits: Jackson driven by only one goal


In three seasons with the Bears, safety Eddie Jackson has been named All-Pro, voted to the Pro Bowl twice and won an NFC defensive player of the week award.

Individual accomplishments have helped the 2017 fourth-round pick from Alabama earn a lucrative contract extension as well as a spot on the prestigious list of the top 100 players in Bears history.

But Jackson enters the 2020 season driven not by the desire to pad his résumé, but to bring a championship to Chicago.

"It's the thing that matters the most: the Super Bowl," Jackson said. "We know what it means to the organization. That's the drive, that's the motivation, just to bring back that Lombardi Trophy. That's what drives me and I'm pretty sure that's what drives everyone on this team right now is to go out there, play fast, do your part and bring back that trophy. That's the most important part."

Golden opportunity: Jackson has seen a ton of growth in fifth-year pro Deon Bush, who is competing with veteran free-agent addition Tashaun Gipson Sr. for the starting safety position opposite Jackson.

"He understands the defense," Jackson said. "Just from seeing him my rookie year to now, just how much he understands about the defense now and just his playmaking ability is through the roof. It's really showing up on the field.

"When I first got here, he was kind of overthinking a lot of different things. Now you see he's getting settled. He's more relaxed. He's more comfortable. He knows his stuff. He's just going out there, he's flying around. He's having fun. I keep telling him just keep making plays."

Bush made a nice break on a pass over the middle in Monday's practice but dropped the would-be interception. He'll look to create more of those opportunities the rest of training camp.

Vocal leader: Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham, who signed with the Bears in March as a free agent, made his presence felt Monday in the team's first padded practice of training camp.

"He has a lot of experience, a lot of confidence and he's a leader," said coach Matt Nagy. "He's a vocal leader. I think that's pretty good for this offensive unit right now for where we're at. We do have leaders on this team, but to have a guy that has played in this league for a long time and has had a lot of success, he's extremely motivated."

Graham leads a tight end group that was completely revamped during the offseason. The Bears also signed free agent Demetrius Harris and spent their top pick in the draft on Notre Dame product Cole Kmet in the second round.

"He's extremely motivated to not only do well for himself, but be able to help the rest of the players on this team," Nagy said. "So you take a guy like Cole Kmet as a young rookie coming in here. For Jimmy to be able to be a mentor and a leader in that room along with Demetrius Harris, you're feeling it in meetings and now [Monday] you could feel it in the huddle.

"When things don't maybe go as well as expected the play before, [Graham] has that next-play mentality that just permeates through the offense. And I think that's what you're going to see. You're going to feel energy from him. He's a fiery guy with a lot of passion. I absolutely love that, not to mention he's 6-foot-7 and has unbelievable ball skills."

Same timetable: The Bears' first padded practice Monday came less than a month before their season opener Sept. 13 against the Lions in Detroit. But every NFL team is contending with the same truncated schedule due to COVID-19.

"Every team's dealing with the same calendar," said veteran defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. "When we go to play another team, how we spent our days of practice and how they spent their days of practice is really going to tell when we step on the field.

"I think that for us here, we're just trying to make sure that we execute and take advantage of all the time that we do have and not really look at it as a situation of 'Oh, I missed this' or 'I missed that.' Everybody's starting on the same page and we've just got to push to a point where we feel like we can dominate and get into that postseason."

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