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Bears’ secondary eager to see if tight calls carry into regular season

Updated: August 14, 2014 3:24PM



After the first week of preseason games, assistant coach Chris Harris counted up the damage — 53 defensive-holding calls, 27 illegal-contact flags and 15 defensive-pass-interference penalties — and relayed the figures to the Bears’ defensive backs.

Not surprisingly, they were annoyed by the league’s “points of emphasis” in flagging those violations.

“It’s a passing league,” cornerback Tim Jennings said, shaking his head. “It’s getting out of hand.”

Blame the Seahawks, who last season used the league’s most physical cover unit — making contact more than five yards from scrimmage — to embarrass Peyton Manning’s Broncos in the Super Bowl.

Or, for the offensive-minded, credit the NFL for enforcing a rule on the books.

“They want to see touchdowns, obviously,” safety Chris Conte said.

There have been nine more illegal-contact penalties and 17 more defensive-holding penalties called already than in all of the 2013 preseason.

“No one wants to see a good defensive game of 3-0, 6-0 anymore,” cornerback Kelvin Hayden bemoaned.

The Bears were flagged 14 times in the exhibition opener, but not for defensive holding, illegal contact or pass interference.

“We have very little jersey-grabbing overall,” coach Marc Trestman said. “In the two years I’ve been here, our DBs do an excellent job of covering without grabbing.”

Trestman said the Bears will wait and see if the regular season is officiated as tightly as the preseason.

That’s the far more pertinent question.

“Who knows?” Conte said. “You can’t control what the refs do. You just have to play within the rules.”

Coaches have alerted defensive backs when they grab jerseys in practice.

“It’s gonna be tough, but we have to play within the rules,” safety Ryan Mundy said. “It’s an extremely difficult rule to abide by, especially in this day and age of football where they spread you out and try to take advantage of matchups.”

Mundy wasn’t sure whether the league would enforce the rules as strictly in the regular season but said the Bears have to assume it will.

“Anytime the league wants to make a statement, they make a statement,” Mundy said. “They go all-in.”

Whether defenders like it or not.

“Once the [regular-season] games come along, you’ve got to let us play,” Jennings said. “If it doesn’t affect the game, you’ve got to let it go.”

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley



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