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Bears’ corners under pressure heading to Seattle

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Off to an 0-2 start and ranking last in the NFL in points allowed, the Chicago Bears’ defense must find some confidence while heading into a place where even the most self-assured teams find themselves shaken.

The Bears battle the Seahawks on Seattle in Sunday with cornerback Kyle Fuller, Chicago’s 2014 first-round draft pick, receiving the proverbial “message” from coaches about his play. Fuller was benched late in the game against the Arizona Cardinals last week.

For that matter, both starting cornerbacks went to the bench for several plays as defensive coordinator Vic Fangio tried to see what he had behind them in former Dallas Cowboys seventh-round draft pick Terrance Mitchell.

“Absolutely, always,” was Fangio’s response when asked if he was holding the starters accountable by sending a message with the change. “And they know that. This is a results business, and the better the results, everybody’s happy.”

There will be no lineup changes or tactical switch back to more zone as the Bears used to play and less tight coverage just because of two games, Fangio said.

“You’re constantly evaluating everything, both personnel and scheme,” Fangio said. “But after two weeks, I’ve been at this a long time, and we’ll just keep trudging along.

“I think the worst thing you can do is panic and start changing schemes left and right looking for a magic potion.”

Fuller struggled last year at times down the stretch after a series of minor injuries, but he isn’t performing much better in a new scheme than he was in the old one.

“He has a decent skill set,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “Kyle is a good corner. He has a strong skill set.

“He just hasn’t applied it. When you don’t apply it, it kind of negates your whole strength as a corner.”

Starting cornerback Alan Ball said the message for himself and Fuller was received after both had pass-interference penalties leading to Arizona scores.

“Vic does a good job of calling plays; we’ve got to do a good job of executing,” Ball said. “In this league, there’s going to be some ups and there’s going to be some downs. We’ve got to find a way to fight through it no matter what.”

The Bears have allowed a league-worst 128.0 passer rating and are next to last in preventing third-down conversions (46.7 percent).

“It’s really the combined pass defense,” coach John Fox said. “We haven’t been very good on third down, we haven’t been real good in the red area. That’s not just all passes.

“There are runs involved in some of those areas, as well. But pass defense is a combination of coverage and rush. I think after two weeks, not 12 weeks, we’re kinda where we are. There’s a lot of areas on our football team we need to improve at.”

Not having a sack can’t help the coverage, but Fox shrugged off that issue.

“I think 0-2 worries me more than no sacks,” he said.

Part of the problem in the season-opening loss to the Packers was Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ ability to buy time with his feet before throwing. He had more time to pick out receivers. The rush never got to Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer last week, and he had plenty of time to look deep.

Hoping Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has less time to throw is useless since he might be the best in the league at buying time.

“I think Russell is very similar to what we have seen as far as having pocket awareness,” Fox said. “He might be a little faster in timed speed.

“It is basically a feel of the rush, and he avoids it as well as anybody. But that guy we saw in Week 1 was pretty good, too.”

Stopping Seattle’s passing game comes down to covering in man to man, and both Fuller and Ball will need to display improvement. If not, something more than a message could be coming their way.

“Right now, our margin for error is so tiny and so small,” Ball said. “We have got to find a way to overcome that.

“Every time we mess up, we’ve got to be on top of it.”

INJURY NOTES

–QB Jay Cutler is out for Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury, although the Bears won’t announce it until required to do so on Friday.

Cutler did not practice Wednesday, and initial unconfirmed reports called for him to miss at least two games. However, coach John Fox said he didn’t have a timetable for Cutler’s return.

–WR Alshon Jeffery missed Wednesday’s practice with the hamstring injury that kept him out of last week’s game against Arizona.

–WR Eddie Royal missed Wednesday’s practice with hip and back injuries.

–LB Jonathan Bostic missed Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury.

–RB Matt Forte practiced Wednesday on a limited basis due to knee soreness. Forte, who is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, has 271 yards from scrimmage.

–WR Marquess Wilson practiced Wednesday on a limited basis due to a shoulder injury. Thrust into a starter’s role due to injuries to Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White, Wilson has three catches on the season.

–G Matt Slauson practiced on a limited basis with thigh and toe injuries.

–DE Ego Ferguson practiced on a limited basis Wednesday due to knee soreness.

–LB Pernell McPhee practiced on a limited basis Wednesday with knee soreness. McPhee missed practice time last week due to a wrist problem but played against Arizona.


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