New Bear Dixon brings welcome energy, edge
In just his 15th day on the team since being signed off the Minnesota Vikings' practice squad, safety Ahmad Dixon made a great impression.
Dixon recovered a muffed punt Monday night that led to a touchdown, was a standout in kick coverage and even wound up playing in the base defense after injuries to starters Ryan Mundy and Chris Conte.
"He really brought an energy to us, an edge to us and made some big-time plays," said Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. "The fumble, yeah, the kid (Jalen Saunders) dropped it, but (Dixon) stuck his face in there and wrestled it away from the kid, which is good to see.
"He had another open-field tackle on a punt, and he was very disruptive on punt coverage, first man down and made some things happen."
Twelve-year veteran linebacker Lance Briggs was asked if he knew the name of the new guy who was in the huddle with him at crunch time Monday night.
"Oh yeah, I know who he is -- I just didn't expect to see him in the huddle with the game on the line," Briggs said. "He made some great plays. He went on special teams and made some great plays too, early on in the game."
What a rush:
Like most nose tackles, the Bears' Stephen Paea isn't usually a huge factor as a pass rusher, since his priorities in the defense are more about stopping the run.
But the four-year veteran already has 2 sacks, and his next one will give him a single-season career best.
"I think he's gotten better (as a pass rusher)," said Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. "He's worked really hard at that. Stephen's been playing well. I'm really happy for him and we're really happy for him as a staff because of the improvements that he's made. He's been very consistent at it and you can see it show up week-in and week-out on tape. He's shown the good ability to get a rush on the quarterback and collapse the pocket, which is huge for our outside guys as well."
Because of the game Monday night, the Bears had only a walk-through Wednesday. But eight players would not have practiced: wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle), defensive end Jared Allen (ill), center Roberto Garza (ankle), guard Matt Slauson (ankle), defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), linebacker Shea McClellin (hand), fullback Tony Fiammetta (hamstring) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (quad).
Safeties Ryan Mundy (shoulder) and Chris Conte (shoulder) would have been limited.
It appears Slauson and Garza will miss their third straight game Sunday when the Packers visit Soldier Field.
"I would say they're day to day," said Bears coach Marc Trestman. "I'm not optimistic, quite frankly. It's possible they could be ready to go on Thursday and Friday at practice."