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Bills prepare for 'improved' Bears defense

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 9:30 p.m. CDT

LAKE FOREST – If it puts any Bears fans at ease after a less-than-inspiring preseason, Bills coach Doug Marrone said he has seen a “much-improved [Bears] defense” this summer compared to last year.

Then again, he is supposed to say that, but Marrone and Bills quarterback EJ Manuel do have the tricky task of preparing for a Bears defense without a ton of tape to go off, if we’re assume this group truly is “much-improved.”

“I still think they’ve always done a good job, obviously of creating turnovers,” Marrone said Wednesday on a conference call. “They do a good job obviously of covering. I think they’ve upgraded themselves on the inside with depth with the two young guys on the inside that are playing well.”

Manuel said they are looking at film from last year and this preseason to get ready for Sunday.

“They have great players,” said the second-year quarterback. “Lance Briggs is obviously one of the best linebackers in the league and we know he’s going to come out there and have high energy and great leadership in that position for their defense."

Marrone referred to his time playing the Bears when he was on the Saints’ offensive staff and also highlighted Briggs. He is not going to come to Soldier Field expecting last year’s Bears defense.

“There’s a lot of good players on that field,” he said. “We have to do a good job. I know last year may not have been how they wanted it, but it’s a new year and they’ll be ready to go, I’m sure, on opening day.”

Briggs discusses controversy: It was the restaurant opening heard ‘round the world – or at least, Chicago. Lance Briggs addressed his decision to take a personal day Monday to open a restaurant in his hometown in California. He said he asked coach Marc Tresmtan for a personal day and explained how game-plan installs usually occur Wednesday, and that Monday was just an hour-long practice.

When asked whether he understood the criticism, including why it wasn’t moved to a different day (a decision Briggs said was his business partner’s), the seven-time Pro Bowler said, “I think the question that’s more important than that is as a guy that’s over 12 years [in the NFL] that I poured my heart out on the field every game and every play, I think if you’re questioning whether I care more to be there than to be here, my history has always spoken for me. You can take that how you want to.”

Rotating safeties: Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said the Bears have a “pretty good idea of what direction we’re going to go” at safety, and Trestman said to expect a three-man rotation, assuming Chris Conte is cleared from his concussion, with Conte, Danny McCray and Ryan Mundy. Although unorthodox, Conte may not be at 100 percent, having played in only one preseason game, and Trestman said this takes into account the special teams obligations for Mundy and McCray.

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