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Bears’ defensive line thick with potential

Julius Peppers (left) sees big things for Bears’ defensive line which is deep explosive. |   Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

Julius Peppers (left) sees big things for the Bears’ defensive line, which is deep and explosive. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: November 3, 2011 10:53AM

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Bears defensive end Julius Peppers already has reached a certain elite status in his career. Now he’s hoping the rest of the line can join him.

‘‘I think we can be great,’’ Peppers said Thursday. ‘‘If everybody continues to work, continues to grind, the sky is the limit with this group because we have so much depth and so many guys that can play.

‘‘I see a lot of guys that can play, that can fill our system because we run. Explosive and quick guys, that’s what we try to have up front. We’re not necessarily big guys, you know, heavy guys. I see all the guys we have fit in the system.’’

Defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli has seen it, too, but with the Bears working toward their second game of the preseason Monday in New York against the Giants, it’s time to see more.

‘‘We’re making progress as a group,’’ Marinelli said. ‘‘It’s kind of create havoc and chaos under an umbrella of discipline. The motor has to be at full tilt, but you still have to stay disciplined in the structure of the defense, and that part is coming.’’

It’s not just the starters expected to produce. The line seems to be deeper than it was in 2010.

‘‘I’ll make sure we’re playing our system [Monday], good discipline,’’ Marinelli said. ‘‘Every week I want to see hustle — there’s no option there — and attacking. I want to see consistency in attacking and takeaways. Last week [against the Buffalo Bills], we only had one takeaway, and that’s not good enough. That’s not up to our standards.

‘‘I’m constantly talking about our skill development. . . . When that foundation is set, then we can take off. But if you build a house of straw, you’re doing too much or you’re winning by a scheme, you don’t want to do that. We want to build a good foundation of fundamentals, bone-on-bone football, how we tackle, how we force, how we break on the ball.

‘‘When that’s in place, then progress will be made. Without that, you become a gimmick defense.’’

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