If Julius Peppers generates the kind of impact for the Chicago Bears when the regular season begins that he did at the start of the team’s minicamp, it ought to be $91.5 million well spent.
Peppers drew a false start on one of the first snaps from scrimmage on Friday and there were at least three by offensive players opposite him before the day was over. When linemen weren’t jumping, Peppers was turning the corner and going by them.
He spent the day alternating between the left and right end positions, flipping sometimes on every other down. That is the plan for the Bears this season with the idea being that they want to create the best mismatches possible for the five-time Pro Bowl performer. Whispers about Peppers’ work ethic haven’t been founded, at least not here.
"We've been more than just thrilled with everything he's done,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "Perception versus reality are two different things most of the time. My perception of Julius coming in is that he's a great guy … and that's what I've seen. But I've seen a hard worker who's really moving into a leadership role fairly quickly.''
The Bears’ pass rush has been nonexistent the last few seasons. Coupled with problems in the back end of the defense, they’ve really struggled on third down. Consider that Smith’s defense was 32nd in the league in 2009 on third down and six or more yards. The addition of Peppers is supposed to improve the entire unit. Thus far, things are looking up.
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