Bears Pro-Bowl defensive lineman Julius Peppers battled injuries throughout the preseason, and there were concerns about his availability for the regular season opener. Peppers started, last Sunday against the Bengals, but you might not have known it from watching the game. Peppers finished with no tackles, no quarterback hits, and no sacks. But head coach Marc Trestman isn't concerned about his star pass rusher.
I know that Julius didn't play as well as he would want to play," Trestman said on Wednesday, "but I think he still impacted the game."
If he did, it didn't show up on the stat sheet. However, after missing most of training camp with a balky hamstring Peppers could be rounding in to shape as we speak.
"Here's a guy that's worked extremely hard throughout the offseason and training camp, and I think he'll start to play better as we move forward," Trestman said.
Peppers managed that feat in 2012. After a failing to record a sack in last season's opener, he did so twice in week two. And getting pressure on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will be even more important with the league's best running back carrying the rock, in Adrian Peterson.
"Yeah it's going to be a challenge because we are going to have to find a way to fit the run, and we are going to have to defend the play action pass and things like that. That's' the challenge of having a great running back," said Trestman. "You've got to stop the run first anyway, in any league, and certainly in the National Football League you have to do everything you can to make a team one dimensional so they've got to throw the ball down the field and you can facilitate a pass rush. So it's going to be a challenge. You've got the best in the business running the football."
Getting pressure on Ponder was a key in both games between the Bears and Vikings a year ago. In the Bears' 28-10 win at Soldier Field, the Bears had six QB hits and two sacks. However two weeks later in a 21-14 loss at the Metrodome, Chicago managed just one QB hit and one sack.
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