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updated: 6/3/2014 11:04 PM

Briggs: Bears' defense still has long way to go

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Veteran linebacker Lance Briggs doesn't mince words when discussing last year's defense that allowed a franchise-worst 478 points.

"We have a long way to go," said the seven-time Pro Bowl pick after an OTA practice. "You have to take it one step at a time. The good thing about it is we're in the summertime now.

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"Got a lot of time to bring in all the fundamentals, get everything installed, the whole system. So by the time we get back to training camp we'll all be ready."

Briggs says he will be ready as well. He was sidelined for seven games last season with a shoulder injury after missing just four games in his first 10 NFL seasons.

Briggs' presence and the influx of talented veterans and draft picks on the defensive side will bolster a unit that was the NFL's worst against the run in 2013. But that's just a start.

"There are a lot of things that we're going to have to correct this year," Briggs said. "Tackling was really bad. Everything we did was almost all atrocious. Everything we're doing now is not just to correct that but to be better and get ourselves back to a top-five defense."

Cornering the market:

Defensive coaches want to get first-round pick Kyle Fuller on the field as much and as soon as possible.

But the cornerback from Virginia Tech is not about to play ahead of starters Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, both Pro Bowlers.

So, in passing situations Jennings is moving inside to play the nickel corner, allowing Fuller to get snaps outside at cornerback across from Tillman.

"We feel like we have to get Kyle on the field," Jennings said. "So I'll move in(side) on nickel packages, and we'll bring Fuller in at the left corner.

"It's a little different for me. I've got to get back to being acclimated to playing nickel and playing two positions on defense. Once I get that going, it'll be a good transition for all three of us."

Earlier in his career, with the Indianapolis Colts, Jennings played some nickel, which requires a more thorough understanding of the pass defense along with added responsibilities against the run.

Two new contestants:

The competition to succeed Devin Hester as the team's primary return specialist increased Tuesday when veteran free-agent wide receivers Armanti Edwards and Micheal Spurlock were signed.

To create roster space, the Bears terminated the contract of vested veteran wide receiver Domenik Hixon (torn ACL) with an injury settlement and waived linebacker Tana Patrick.

In four seasons, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Edwards has 40 punt returns for 281 yards (7.0-yard average) and 15 kickoff returns for 295 yards (19.7-yard average).

In seven seasons, the 5-11, 210-pound Spurlock has 81 punt returns for 780 yards (9.6-yard average) and 2 touchdowns and 107 kickoff returns for 2,594 yards (24.2-yard average) and 3 touchdowns.

Hixon was injured during the first week of OTA practices. Patrick signed with the Bears in May as an undrafted rookie out of Alabama.

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