<
>

Bears' defense excelling as a unit

Lovie Smith may have inadvertently challenged his secondary while praising his defense. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- In running down the merits of linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and defensive end Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith may have unknowingly issued a challenge to the club's defensive backs.

Asked whether it was fair to say Urlacher, Briggs and Peppers feed off one another, Smith explained the impact of the defensive end, while adding that the team has become accustomed to the linebackers making plays.

"So we want to get another person in there [making plays]," Smith said. "We have someone on the D-line, linebackers. We'd like to get one of our secondary guys in there, too."

Safeties Chris Harris and Danieal Manning would seem to be the most likely of candidates. Plagued by horrid play at safety last season, the Bears have been solid in the last line of defense with Harris and Manning combining for 169 tackles and six interceptions.

Harris leads the team with five interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. Cornerback Charles Tillman has posted 98 tackles while playing a role in seven takeaways.

Although none of the players in the secondary is considered a marquee name such as Briggs, Peppers and Urlacher, they've all held their own in the playmaking department. That's part of the reason why the staff is so reluctant to name a bona fide most valuable player on the defense.

Like Briggs and Urlacher mentioned earlier in the day, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli called "the defense" the unit's MVP

"It's a bunch of men together, collectively. It's something that's really neat," Marinelli said. "In sports, it's hard to get. But when everybody is disciplined, everybody is doing their job -- sometimes you have to give up an opportunity to make a play so a teammate can make one -- and that's what makes it special. These guys are willing to do that.

"It's about winning. It's about team. It's about effort and accountability, coaches, and players together. It's special when you have that."