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Joniak's Journal: Bushrod To Be Tested Sunday

By Jeff Joniak-

First Impression

Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod will see a lot of Robert Quinn on Sunday in St. Louis. The third-year defensive end, almost exclusively rushes off the right side so he's Bushrod's man, likely with help from a tight end, or chip from a running back.

Quinn is 6-4, 265 with a burst. His 4.62 forty coming out of North Carolina in 2011, includes a 1.61 10-yard split, which speaks to his quickness. Quinn's closing speed after contact is impressive, dangerously impressive. If he shakes a block, he's gone, covering space in a split second and hits the quarterback.

In 2011, Bushrod's New Orleans Saints were beaten by the Rams in the Edward Jones Dome 31-21. Drew Brees was sacked six times; three by left defensive end Chris Long, once by Quinn in what was his rookie season. Bushrod and offensive Coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer know exactly what they are dealing with.

In the Bears win over the Rams in September of 2012 at Soldier Field, Quinn was shutout. This season, Quinn is second in the NFL in sacks with 12, but also first in hits and pressures on the quarterback and has forced five fumbles.

He's rapidly developing into one of the league's premier pass rushers.

Second Thought

There is a lot we don't know about Julius Peppers. For the most part he is a quiet guy, but by no means is he a quiet leader this season. A suddenly younger, newer group of defenders are looking to Peppers for answers and he's done his best to help them out.

In his 180th NFL game, Peppers had his "best" tackle game with 12 against the Ravens Sunday. It included his first two-sack game of the season and an additional two tackles for loss.

Head coach Marc Trestman on the Bears Coaches Show Monday night on WBBM, said they have been adjusting Peppers' practice time, keeping him fresh for game day. Peppers would never ask out of practice, but fewer reps appears to be the right way to go right now for the eight time Pro Bowl defensive end.

Third Degree

It's getting crazy already with the injuries on the defensive line. The hope is Shea McClellin returns from a two-game absence with a hamstring injury this week, just when defensive tackle Stephen Paea's toe flares up again leaving him week-to-week.

However, it has allowed young players to flash. Rookie David Bass and second year end Cheta Ozougwu made big plays against the Ravens as the "next men up" preached by Trestman. Bass did three things right on one play to pick Joe Flacco and score, while Ozougwu blew by the left tackle for a sack and strip of Flacco on a fourth down play.

I think back to an early October practice when Trestman gathered all of the rookies and first year players and talked to them at length about preparing themselves mentally and physically for their opportunities whenever they might come. I think that talk was significant and is paying dividends.

4th and Short

Brandon Marshall is one of seven receivers targeted at least 100 times this season. Of those seven, he owns the highest "receiver" rating at 108.3 according to Pro Football Focus. Here's one reason why: only two of those 100 targeted throws to Marshall have been intercepted. In 2012, seven targeted throws to Marshall were intercepted, which was tied for the third most in the league.

This year, Cincinnati's AJ Green has the most targeted throws picked off with eight. A year ago, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald had the most with 12.

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