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High Praise for Bears DBs

The first two picks made by the Bears in this year's draft have rapidly begun to earn the confidence of coaches and teammates at OTAs.

The Bears decided to go all-defense in Round 2 instead of looking for a receiver or blocker for Justin Fields, and it earned them plenty of criticism.

There was method to their madness, so to speak, as building a strong secondary is essential to implement their cover-2 defense under coach Matt Eberflus.

And no one could have confused their secondary from last year with strong pass coverage even though they ranked third in passing yards allowed. It was a hollow stat, as they were last in passer rating against.

So cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker will be watched closely to see if they can live up to high expectations and possibly be opening day starters. So far, they aren't hurting themselves, but it is difficult to tell much without hitting. Eberflus says coaches look for very specific things at non-contact work from all players.

"Mentally, what you assess this time of year—can the guy pick it up?" Eberflus said. "Is he fast mentally? Can he think on his feet? Is he able to adjust and make the adjustments on the fly? That's No. 1.

"And then, No. 2, physically, what you can see is the athletic ability. I like to see athletes we're acquiring here, really good athletes that can run that have speed. Can they operate and be quick and be quick and not in a hurry as coach (John) Wooden would say. So we're looking at those things—body control and those physical traits that we’re looking for to succeed."

They've seen these things so far from Gordon and Brisker. Each started their work off with veterans at OTAs by forcing two turnovers, a pair of Gordon interceptions and a couple of forced fumbles by Brisker.

"I love both of them so far," defensive backs coach James Rowe said. "Right now they are leading the defense in takeaways. So, Kyler has made a lot of plays. Jaquan is obviously already showing a great knack for punching the ball out, you know.

"They are learning the system. They are coming in and making good plays, and we are excited about both of them right now."

Gordon didn't have the fastest 40 time but his footwork and quick feet seem to get him in position to make plays on the ball, and then he does it. Perhaps they are the result of the dancing he did as a youth or the martial arts he enjoys.

The Bears haven't had many cornerbacks recently who made plays regularly on the ball. Jaylon Johnson has just one interception in his two-year career. Kyle Fuller was the last one who really did it.

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"Sometimes guys have a natural ability with that," Rowe said. "I think Kenny Moore was a guy that had some natural ability with that.

"Obviously he (Gordon) has good ball skills. And he finds himself in good position enough to be able to look back and locate the quarterback and locate the ball to put himself in those positions."

Rowe coached Moore to his first Pro Bowl last year and he made four interceptions and 13 pass breakups, as well as a forced fumble.

"Kenny Moore has good short-area quickness," Rowe said. "Kyler’s might be a tad better, but Kenny was a longer (taller) player. Out of the guys I have coached, no, I wouldn’t say anyone has the short-area quickness that I'm seeing from him (Gordon) right now.

"Probably D'Angelo Hall, but I coached the older D'Angelo Hall. That's my buddy, so leave that one out."

As for Brisker, the Bears have been using him both in the spot Eddie Jackson plays as well as the other safety position. They've used him with starters, backups and third string as they mix players up in the non-contact OTA practices.

"I think he's learning pretty good," safeties coach Andre Curtis said. "I mean, we've thrown a lot at this kid since he's been here and he's absorbed it and learned.

"He's doing a good job so far of getting his hands on the football and getting the football out in practice. He's shown a knack for that and that's a good thing. Hopefully that continues."

Curtis had no comparisons for Brisker the way Rowe did for Gordon.

"He's a long ways off, but he's working hard at what we've given him," Curtis said. "We're evaluating him at both spots. He's rolling 1s, 2s and sometimes with the 3s, so he's just trying to learn how to play. We're trying to find out his strengths and weaknesses and try to help him get better."

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