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With Peppers, Bears’ pass rush still struggling to produce

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Oct. 23, 2010 @ 11:26 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

With pass-protection issues endangering QB Jay Cutler and frequent personnel changes on the offensive line receiving most of the attention in Chicago, the Bears' performance on defense is flying a bit under the radar.

It's ranked eighth in the league and is allowing just 16.2 points per game. While those numbers are an indication of a quality defense, the pass rush isn't producing at a high level. The massive offseason investment in DE Julius Peppers hasn't led to a barrage of sacks. The Bears are ranked 25th in sacks with just nine, and Peppers has only two of those.

Despite those issues, Peppers' fellow defensive linemen can't stop raving about playing alongside him. He sets up one-on-one matchups for other D-linemen when he draws double-teams, and offenses have to game-plan for him.

"Offenses have to know where (Peppers) is at all times," DT Anthony Adams told PFW. "They're going to chip or double-team him. That kind of frees us up a little bit, and we need to take advantage of those situations.

"I think it puts more pressure on everybody else, but at the same time, you have to rise above all that and go out and play your game."

DLE Israel Idonije has stepped up at times, most notably against the Panthers in Week Five when he had 2½ sacks, but no player has emerged as a consistent source of pressure.

It's left the Bears looking for help from outside the 53-man roster.

In their latest attempt to find a player to bolster the pass rush, they called up undrafted rookie DE Barry Turner from their practice squad after DE Charles Grant's two-week stint with the team came to an end. Grant was signed to replace DE Mark Anderson after Anderson, now with the Texans, was cut. While the Bears were desperate for help, Grant didn't even show enough in practice to earn some playing time.

He was released without ever being on the active roster for a game.

The Bears may continue searching for D-line help the rest of the season, but they most likely won't have a chance to add quality personnel until the offseason. With priorities on the offensive line, the Bears will have some difficult decisions to make when it comes to trying to upgrade both sides of the line through the draft and free agency.

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