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Empty Turnover Bucket for Bears

The Bears' favorite preseason prop, a turnover bucket, is largely unused this season and especially over the last five weeks as it's been since Oct. 10 when they last had an interception.

The Bears made their turnover bucket back in training camp, complete with a basketball hoop on it for dunking footballs after they took it away from the offense.

They actually had two versions of it, one just being a blue clothes hamper on wheels and the other one with an actual basketball hoop.

Neither one is getting used and perhaps it's a good thing because the NFL officials might give them a taunting penalty for using this, or for even thinking about it.

But their lack of takeaways is just another sign of the problems their defense has had most of the season after their Oct. 10 20-9 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders

"It's tough, it's tough," safety Tashaun Gipson said. "I think that's one of the things since I been here is it's tough getting those takeaways.

"The season started off the way that we wanted as far as just like being able to get takeaways, whether it's strip sacks, whether it's interceptions, just takeaways period, man. That's kind of fizzled down."

Numerous factors have led to this. They knew going into the season they had two inexperienced defensive backs in Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor. The pass rush pressure caused problems at first and it helped the secondary. Then came injuries to Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Gipson himself for three games.

"Obviously, we've had some injuries, we been having some injuries, things like that," Gipson said. "That's never an excuse because obviously everybody on this team is capable of playing, but that's the tough part about it because we have ball-aware guys. We have guys who can make those plays, man, and those plays are just not coming."

The only takeaways they've had since DeAndre Houston-Carson picked off a Derek Carr Pass in Week 5 were the fumble recovery and touchdown return by Houston-Carson on a punt against the Steelers in their last game and a meaningless ball Ogletree batted out of Ronald Jones' hands as he reached out with the ball at the goal line ending the third quarter of a rout by Tampa Bay on Oct. 24.

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"We just have to get more attempts on taking the ball away," Ogletree said. "And capitalize on some of these opportunities that we have to make those takeaways and turn the ball over and give our offense back the ball.

"So it's kind of a combination of a couple different things. Sometimes we drop some that we should have had. I know personally me I have dropped a couple here. And could have possibly made a better tackle on somebody and actually went at the ball and try to get an attempt on a strip or something like that."

Those chances have been far and few between, unlike last year when safety Eddie Jackson and former Bear Kyle Fuller had a few easy chances for interceptions and didn't make them.

The Bears are tied for 24th in turnover ratio at minus-4. They've had four interceptions, five fumble recoveries and three of those interceptions came on three successive plays in Week 2 against Cincinnati.

It's not like this week presents a golden opportunity for a few picks or recoveries. Baltimore plays ball control. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has thrown eight interceptions and the Ravens had four lost fumbles.

As for that empty turnover bucket?

"We do have it," Ogletree said. "It just hasn’t been used."

They'll have to clear away some cobwebs from it the next time they pull it out.

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