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Third Game, Third Different Bears Secondary

The last time safety Deon Bush started a game that really mattered for the Bears, Eddie Jackson had suffered an ankle injury a few weeks earlier intercepting Aaron Rodgers to clinch a division title for the Bears.

The Bears will need Bush and his five-plus seasons of experience now, as much as they'll need for Duke Shelley to step up at slot cornerback with Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield throwing passes and Odell Beckham Jr. healthy enough to play for the Browns.

The Bears likely will turn to Bush with safety Tashaun Gipson doubtful for Sunday's game, as the secondary will look different for the third straight game. Considering the fact they began the season with two new starters in the secondary it's been a state of constant flux in back.

They could also play DeAndre Houston-Carson instead of Bush, but either way they have two veteran backups to choose from to defend what has been a very accurate Browns passing attack.

"Like I said it hurts, especially to see a guy like Gip go down," Jackson said. "But knowing that Bush and DHC are behind us we're kind of (like) that comfort is still there, knowing they know the game, knowing how we play.

"We practice with them so still just having that type of chemistry."

The Bears switched from Marqui Christian to Duke Shelley at nickel cornerback last week when the secondary allowed 104 fewer passing yards than in the opener. Although Shelley wasn't spectacular, he avoided blown coverages. The week before the secondary couldn't say that against the Rams, so it's likely Shelley would re wmain at the spot.

"I don't really want to get into comparisons (with Christian), but I think Duke played a solid game and you saw some of the strengths that he prides himself on doing with his physical-ness and toughness," Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. "He made a real good tackle on (one) run play, fitting in there, and he's competitive. I think that was a good sign for him. It's a good start."

Jackson saw a resilient secondary overall last week against Joe Burrow and Cincinnati's passing game.

"We just went out there and fixed our miscues, tightened down and little things like that, just put our trust in each other," Jackson said. "That's the good thing about us, no one is going to panic. No one pointed fingers.

"We're just going to continue to stay and rally around each other and you saw what the result was."

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They'll need a similar serious approach to this task because Mayfield has proven he can do more than make silly television commercials about living at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Mayfield has completed 40 of 49 this season (81.6%) and has been so accurate he's been able to keep his passer rating at 101.9 despite having more interceptions (2) than touchdown throws (1).

"He's tough," Jackson said. "He can make a lot of throws, a lot of different throws. Stretches plays, extends plays. He has a very strong arm and he's good with his feet.

"So for us in the back end we've got to take care. The rush and pass are going to have to work together this week for sure to keep him contained. So we know we're up for the challenge."

It's a challenge compounded by the return of Beckham, although the Browns are without their other top receiver Jarvis Landry. Beckham is in his first game since recovering from a torn ACL last season.

Beckham had a 74-catch, 1,035-yard season in 2018 after coming over from the Giants, but then suffered the torn ACL and had just 23 catches for 319 yards last year.

"We've got to game-plan for him," Jackson said. "We don't know what he's going to be used as, specifically, this year, just watching old film and stuff.

"He's a playmaker, he's a gamer. He'll do a lot of different things. He'll stretch the field deep, reverse, trickery plays. So we've just got to stay on top of our keys."

Jackson and either Bush or Houston-Carson need to be as focused in on tight ends Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant and David Njoku as much as the wide receivers. They've combined for 18 receptions and 227 yards in two games.

"We've just got to be on top of our keys," Jackson said. "Just go out there and don't try to do too much, just do your job take care of the guy in front of you."

It's best to keep things simple when the lineup is changing from week to week.

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