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After Further Review

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Young defenders beginning to emerge

Watching tape of Sunday's 21-13 win over the Buccaneers, Bears coach Marc Trestman saw several of his team's young defensive players produce key impact plays.

David Bass sacked Josh McCown, forcing a fumble that Christian Jones recovered to set up the go-ahead touchdown. Demontre Hurst stripped the ball from receiver Vincent Jackson at the Bears' 4. And Cornelius Washington recorded his first career sack.

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David Bass strips the ball from Josh McCown Sunday during the Bears' win.
"They're getting practical playing time in crunch-time situations," Trestman said. "And the good part about what you're seeing is the result of our veterans working together with them, spending time with them one-on-one and in meetings when the coaches aren't around as well. We've got some good mentorship going on."

Jones is a speedy and athletic rookie linebacker who starred at Florida State but went undrafted. He was inserted into Sunday's game after Lance Briggs exited late in the second quarter with a groin injury and could start in Briggs' place Thursday when the Bears visit the Lions on Thanksgiving.

"He's stepping up," Trestman said. "He's running to the football. You can see the growth in practice; the learning curve is getting much better. He's part of this young group of guys that we have that are getting opportunities and making the most out of them."

The Bears expect Jones to continue to develop as he gains more experience. He has recorded all 38 of his tackles this season in the last seven games, including 26 in the last four contests.

"The more he is able to know and understand what he's supposed to do, the faster he can play and the more aggressive he can be," Trestman said. "So it starts in the classroom and again the reps on the practice field and then it's assimilating that on the football field."

The young players have joined with their veteran teammates to help resuscitate the defense. Since allowing 106 points in back-to-back blowout losses to the Patriots and Packers, the Bears have permitted just one TD in each of their two 21-13 wins over the Vikings and Buccaneers.

"I do feel like we're getting very good effort from the guys up front," Trestman said. "We've mixed up our rushes. We're getting some five- and six-man rushes, some good four-man rushes. Guys are playing hard and working together. There's a continuity between what's going on up front and the back end."

Trestman hopes the improvement continues Thursday when the Bears face the Lions.

"This will be a great challenge for us this week," he said. "They certainly have a talented offense with talented players at skill positions, so that'll be a big test for us on the surface Thursday in Detroit and we'll see a lot more about where we are."

Not everything Trestman saw on tape from Sunday's win made him smile. The Bears' once-potent offense remains stuck in neutral, generating only 68 yards in the first half while yielding three sacks, losing one fumble, dropping four passes and committing two penalties.

Two of the Bears' TDs in the second half came on drives that started at the Tampa Bay 13 and 15 following turnovers.

"I thought our whole offense was just very, very poor early because of the mistakes that we made," Trestman said. "What was a positive was the way we came out in the second half and took advantage of the turnovers. We got the ball in the end zone. I think that was the positive part of the day for Jay [Cutler] and our entire offense, that we were able to push it in.

"Everybody was taking turns [making mistakes]. It wasn't what we wanted it to be. We got out of sync. But we hung in there."

Penalties have contributed to the slow starts on offense for the Bears, who have drawn six flags for 45 yards on their opening possession in their last four games, including three false starts.

"It's been part of the issues that we've had certainly," Trestman said. "The penalties, the things that we can control are the things that we've got to continue to work on, and we will in various ways.

"Those are the things that take away from your opportunity to move the football, stay in sequence, and do the things that you want to do with your entire offense. When you're in sequence and you're not hurting yourself, certainly you have opportunities to do more things."

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