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Bears ushering in more aggressive defense

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Apparently the offensive approach isn't all that is new strategically for the Chicago Bears.

Although the Bears kept Lovie Smith's Tampa-2 style defensive system to maintain continuity, the defense has displayed some glimpses of potential directions they could go that deviate greatly from the conservative rush-and-cover style they've employed since 2004.

In the dress rehearsal preseason win over Oakland, they blitzed from several different spots. They showed it on occasion in other games. They even had Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman blitzing at one point.

"The take away (from blitzing) is that the pressures complement our base," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "They complement each other.

"We'll pressure on our terms and we'll play whatever game we need to play that week. We need to be proficient in every pressure against the run and against the pass. Same thing in our base defense. And so we don't favor one over the other. It's just whatever we feel like we want to do, and need to do."

The Bears haven't been a blitzing team, so they weren't very good at it. They had only three sacks by non-defensive linemen last year and only two the previous season. Brian Urlacher had four in 2010, but was never particularly adept at it, either.

Rookie Jonathan Bostic displays the speed needed to be a blitzing middle linebacker, as does fellow rookie Khaseem Greene.

Tucker downplayed the blitz to an extent, but it's apparent his philosophy is different than what it was under Smith, when the Bears dropped back and almost exclusively relied on the four-man rush to create pressure. The idea was to force turnovers. However, no one said pressure from other rushers couldn't force turnovers as well.

"I think everyone has the same blitzes in the league, pretty much," Tucker said. "There's nothing new under the sun. We call them, we run them. We work to execute them, and if you've got good players doing them, then hopefully you'll have success.

"That's where we're at with the blitzes."

--Coach Marc Trestman said almost all starters will sit out the final preseason game against Cleveland and recently acquired Jordan Palmer will start at quarterback. Trent Edwards will follow him and no other quarterback will play.

--Devin Hester's job security hasn't been settled, but it sounds like special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis wants to do anything he can to avoid cutting Hester for any reason.

"For the most part, when you look at it around the league most everybody's keeping a returner," he said. "He might be the fifth receiver, but he's a returner. So it's not that huge of a deal.

"But he's (Hester) one of the best of all time, so hopefully we can get him back to that level he's been at in the past for sure. He's been great to work with, for sure."

--The final preseason game may be a last chance for safety Brandon Hardin. The third-round pick, who missed all last season due to a neck injury suffered in preseason, has shown nothing to prove he should dislodge undrafted free agent Anthony Walters, who started a game last year and has played in 20 NFL contests.

"I've really got to get out there and prove I belong on this team," Hardin said.

Hardin also missed his final year at Oregon State due to injury, and was actually a cornerback then. He has appeared too stiff in the hips for NFL downfield pass coverage in practices and preseason games. Nor has he stood out on special teams.

He was chosen with the 79th pick in last year's draft by general manager Phil Emery, so he could become Emery's first prominent swing-and-a-miss in the draft.

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed to this report.

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