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updated: 9/11/2013 7:44 PM

Bears expect more from Peppers and D-line

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  • Bears outside linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive end Julius Peppers put a hit on Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis Sunday at Soldier Field. Peppers was unable to record a sack despite playing against a backup tackle.

      Bears outside linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive end Julius Peppers put a hit on Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis Sunday at Soldier Field. Peppers was unable to record a sack despite playing against a backup tackle.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


Shea McClellin had the Bears' only sack against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the only 2 quarterback pressures came from Stephen Paea.

"The ball was out quick, but really there's no excuse and no explanation," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "We've got to get pressure on the quarterback, and that's something we're going to work on this week."

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The most notable non-contributor last week was eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers, who had zero solo tackles and 1 assist, even though he was playing against the Bengals' third best offensive tackle, Anthony Collins, who was subbing for injured Andrew Whitworth.

Peppers, 33, missed two preseason games this year with a hamstring injury and he battled plantar fasciitis most of last season. The 12-year veteran still finished the year with 11 sacks, the eighth double-digit sack season in his career. But coaches insist he's healthy, and he has not appeared on the injury report this season.

"He said he was fine, and I feel good about him moving forward," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "I have complete confidence in him that he's going to come out and give us his best effort. It's a team game; we can't just leave it up to one guy."

Coach Marc Trestman said he sees no sign of injury to Peppers.

"I've seen him run and work in practice," he said. "I don't think that's an issue at all. I don't see it on tape."

Trestman said the entire defensive line needs to contribute more, not just Peppers.

"He was effective at times and we were ineffective collectively at times," Trestman said. "But he's one guy in 11. We'd like to see all of them get to the quarterback more and do more with a four-man rush."

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton, who missed almost all of the preseason with a concussion, also failed to make much of a noticeable contribution. He had just 1 solo tackle and no assists.

Dual threat:

In their 34-24 loss to the Detroit Lions last week, the Vikings did a great job taking away all-pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, limiting him to 4 catches for 37 yards.

But running back Reggie Bush gouged Minnesota for 90 rushing yards on 20 attempts and 101 receiving yards on just 4 catches, including a 77-yard TD. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier faces the same kind of attack this week with the Bears and Matt Forte.

"There are definitely some similarities," said Frazier, a cornerback on the Bears' Super Bowl XX champions. "Forte is a good threat catching the football for a number of years now. Brandon (Marshall) is a big-time wide receiver, a lot of balls targeted there."

Forte, coming off a mediocre performance in the opener (19 carries for 50 yards; 4 catches for 41 yards), has a chance to do a lot more damage this week. He has many of the same skills as Bush, but Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen says they're not the same type of player.

"They're completely different style of guys," Allen said. "Both are good out of the backfield as far as being able to catch the ball and make plays in the receiving game, but Forte has the ability to be a 20-25-carry guy up the gut, run that power game. That's one thing he's always been able to do, take the hard carries, hit after hit and still be effective, where Reggie is more effective in space. Forte can do both."

Injury report:

Cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) was limited at Wednesday's practice, the only Bear on the injury list.

The Vikings listed four starters as limited: defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee), center John Sullivan (knee), cornerback Josh Robinson (quadriceps) and offensive tackle Phil Loadholt (knee).

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