For Julius Peppers, start of the regular season is a rush
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org September 7, 2012 8:56PM
Defensive end Julius Peppers has started all 32 games in his two years with the Bears. He has 19 sacks in that span. | Elsa~Getty Images
Updated: October 9, 2012 3:05PM
Even on the eve of his 11th NFL season, Bears defensive end Julius Peppers still looks forward to the start of the season.
The regular season, that is.
“I get a big kick out of the season starting,” he said. “I think when the time comes where that diminishes is the time to give it up.
“I’m very excited for us to get started and get this thing started on the right foot.”
After training camp ended in Bourbonnais, Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli expressed no concerns about the readiness of his star defensive end.
“He’s had a real good camp,” Marinelli said. “He knows how to prepare to get himself ready.”
Peppers enters his third season with the Bears, having started every game and racking up 19 sacks and forcing six fumbles to assert himself as one of the defense’s cornerstone players.
But the seven-time Pro Bowl selection recognizes his role: drawing double-teams to free up others.
“Take it as a compliment. You also know you’re helping out your teammates,” Peppers said. “Just because teams try to take you out of the game doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the game. You can still impact the game.”
Yet Peppers admitted he does get frustrated sometimes.
“But again, you’re just impacting the game in a different way,” he said. “You might not get the looks you want to get as far as getting a single, but you’re helping somebody else. You’re trusting your teammates to get the job done.”
In 2010, Israel Idonije had eight sacks. But last season he was slowed by injury, and the Bears had only 33 sacks, ranking 29th in the NFL.
That is why, in part, the Bears used their first-round pick on Shea McClellin, a 3-4 linebacker who will begin his pro career as a backup defensive end.
‘‘We’re looking to play at a high level up front,” Idonije said.
The Bears will open the season Sunday against No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts. There’s an expectation that the Bears’ veteran defense will abuse the young quarterback, but Peppers isn’t going to overlook anyone.
“Look at last year, you had a couple of guys play well, one down in Carolina in particular,” Peppers said, referring to Cam Newton. “We’ve come to expect great things from those guys.”