Updated: September 4, 2014 11:44PM
Lance Briggs wasn’t the only Bear to get special dispensation from coach Marc Trestman. Jared Allen only played 29 snaps in the preseason.
“Coach took good care of me,” Allen said Wednesday after the Bears practiced at Halas Hall for the opener Sunday against the Bills at Soldier Field. “Obviously, I had some circumstances. My wife gave birth to our second daughter, and Coach didn’t feel it was necessary to have me come from a hospital bed to a playing field Week 1 [of the preseason].”
Allen played three series against the Jaguars in the second preseason game. But when a sore shoulder flared up, he was held out of the third preseason game and sat out the finale with the rest of the starters. Nice work if you can get it.
“I was ready Week 3,’’ Allen said. ‘‘Coach said he needs to give me a rest. At this point in my career, I know the process my body has to go through and what my mind has to go through to get ready for Week 1. I feel good. I’m ready to go.”
Trestman kept his playmakers happy. Now it’s time for the payoff. The answer to virtually every question about the Bears’ beleaguered defense — from Shea McClellin at linebacker to rookie Kyle Fuller at cornerback to two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings at nickel back — starts with Allen and Briggs playing up to, or pretty close to, the standards they set as perennial Pro Bowl players.
In their season opener, the Bears could have eight new starters from the regular-season finale against the Packers in December — with Briggs, Jennings and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff the only holdovers. With 20 Pro Bowl appearances among Allen (five), Ratliff (four), Briggs (seven), Tillman (two) and Jennings (two), the hope is that talent will accelerate the development of the defense — from McClellin’s transition to linebacker to the progress of rookies to the all-important cohesion of the unit.
But nobody’s making any promises. There’s no telling how long the process will take. Or if it will.
“I don’t know,” Briggs said. “It could happen right away. It [could] take some time. We have a lot of new guys and vets. . . . We’re all playing in a different system for a different coach and doing things a little bit differently than we have before — Ratliff . . . Jared . . . Lamarr [Houston]. Even me here in Chicago, things are changing.
“So the cohesiveness . . . we can all jell this week and be sharp and play shutdown defense. But this is the NFL, and they get paid, too. There are going to be some mistakes. You have to make up for those mistakes by getting to the ball, getting a lot of guys around the ball and creating turnovers.”
Allen, though, reported the ever-critical defensive line good to go — even with five newcomers in the presumed rotation in himself, Houston, Willie Young and rookie tackles Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson.
“I feel very comfortable,” Allen said. “I’ve been on some good defensive lines, and I feel right there with them as far as comfort level — knowing what we’ve got to do. Where we’re at right now is pretty impressive.”