- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears are facing a curious conflict at Halas Hall this week as they intend to improve the pass rush just as the NFL's best running back comes marching into town.
There is no doubt the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson will have the Bears' full attention on the lakefront Sunday, but getting off the ball and disrupting the pass is a topic that's still being emphasized after Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton looked all too comfortable in the season opener.
"It's going to be a challenge, there's no doubt about it, because we're going to have to find a way to fit in the run and we're going to have to find a way to defend the play-action passes and things like that when we are in single safety coverages," coach Marc Trestman said after practice Wednesday.
So will the Bears truly emphasize what appeared to be a weakness against the Bengals, or do they put that aside for Peterson and the Vikings?
"That's the challenge of having a great running back," Trestman said. "You have to stop the run first anyway in any league and certainly in the National Football League. You have to do anything you can to make a team one dimensional so they have to throw the ball up the field and you can facilitate a pass rush and so forth. It will be a challenge. You have as good as there is in this business running the football."
Peterson certainly has thrived against the Bears in his career with 1,085 career rushing yards in 10 games with 14 touchdowns. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder isn't nearly as dynamic, but the Bears still don't want to be left leaning one way and get burned the other.
"The running game will be huge but we have to get pressure on the quarterback and we know that," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "That's been a big point of emphasis already this week so definitely generating the pass rush with four will be something we work on this week."
The Bears believe that the issue with the pass rush Sunday had a little bit to do with opening-game adjustments and a little more to do with the fact that Dalton was making quick three-step reads.
"You know a little bit was the scheme but still in the NFL there will be three-step a lot," defensive end Corey Wootton said. "Teams don't want their quarterback hit a lot, but we have to do everything we can to get our hands in the passing lane and whatnot."
Wootton said the Bears' defensive line takes pride in the pass rush and that won't change, even in Peterson's presence.
"I think as a D-lineman, you definitely want to stop the run, but pass rush, that's what this scheme is known for," Wootton said. "Obviously we have to stop the run and be in our gaps, but the pass rush is definitely something that impacts and changes the game."
Julius Peppers, who didn't have a sack Sunday and was probably critiqued the harshest, declined to talk after practice. He is said to be healthy, though, as he tries to make a similar improvement to the one he made early in 2012 when he didn't have a sack in the opener and had two the following week against the Green Bay Packers.
"He's always very focused," said Tucker, when asked if Peppers has an extra edge about him this week. "I have complete confidence in him that he will come out and give his best effort and we look forward to this challenge this week. But we talked about taking in one game at a time and so we came out today, we worked well, we'll look at the tape, we'll finish with some meetings tonight and we'll come out tomorrow and keep trying to get a little better each day and take it into Sunday."
Tucker said this is the week that the Bears defense will make its biggest improvement.
"I feel like you're going to make your most improvement from the first game to the second game and that's what we're looking to do," Tucker said. "Whether it's in the pass rush, eliminating big plays or tackling, getting off the field on third downs, we're looking for huge amounts of improvement.
"It starts in practice and it starts in the meetings. I was pleased with what happened today. Guys came out to work. I have a lot of confidence in these guys, I really do, that they can execute at a high level and we'll get them to do that."