Quintin Demps, veterans bring stability to Bears secondary
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Safety Quintin Demps often resembles a player-coach for the Chicago Bears in practice while answering questions from young defensive backs.
A defensive secondary badly in need of a facelift received one during the offseason, and Demps is part of the answer to how more turnovers can be generated.
“I give my share of wisdom here and there for sure,” Demps said. “I’ve been around a little bit, so I know a little bit about the game.
“I don’t know everything, but I know a little bit and I definitely will share what I know.”
Young safeties such as rookie Eddie Jackson or second-year player Deon Bush seek out Demps’ advice.
Demps led all NFL safeties in interceptions last season when he made six for Houston, five more than any Bears safety made in either of the past two seasons.
The advice he’s giving young players could be as valuable as the interceptions the Bears hope he makes.
“Guys that have played in the league understand the game,” coach John Fox said. “They’ve already got a good grasp of our defense and they help with the young guys.”
Demps’ most repeated advice for younger players is to earn respect and do it by forcing turnovers.
“I’m trying to earn it every day still,” Demps said. “It’s not about how many years you’ve been in the league, it’s about how you play and how consistent you can be.
“So that’s my goal, to be consistent and to be myself, and if they (turnovers) come, they come.”
The Bears matched their franchise record for fewest interceptions in a 16-game season with eight in each of the past two years.
“I don’t think turnovers come by one guy,” Demps said. “It’s the unit, they come as a unit. You know we’ve got to communicate, we’ve got to do our job, we’ve got to fly to the ball.
“Then they’re going to come to us, not just me but then to everybody. We’ve got to spread it around.”
To improve against the pass, the Bears brought in former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marcus Cooper and former Giants and Jaguars cornnerback Prince Amukamara in free agency, besides Demps.
They saw some early positive results against Denver in the first preseason game, as they held Denver’s first two quarterbacks to 93 combined passing yards.
Cooper had a slow start because of a hamstring issue, but is now starting. And Amukamara has started, but missed the past two practices because of a hamstring problem.
If rookie safety Eddie Jackson beats out two-year starter Adrian Amos for the other safety spot, the Bears could start the season with an entirely new secondary.
Early returns show Amos is in for a fight.
“For me it’s really like any other year,” Amos said. “Nothing is guaranteed. You come in, you’ve got to earn your spot, earn your keep.”
Coming from Alabama, Jackson seems more advanced than many young Bears defensive backs despite missing the offseason while recovering from a leg fracture.
“I can say we were prepared very well at Alabama,” Jackson said. “That’s one thing I can say. But I can say the speed of the game is a little faster, but it’s not a real huge difference. But learning and coming out here and putting in the work is the same thing.
“At Bama, their camp is (physically) harder than the camp here so this kind of helps you on your body.”
NOTES: The Bears returned to Halas Hall for practice on Wednesday after breaking Bourbonnais camp Monday, but guard Kyle Long wasn’t on the field. Long was involved in two fights at Monday’s practice, but Fox said his absence was unrelated and was for a trip to the doctor concerning his surgically repaired ankle. “He was embarrassed for himself and for the team,” Fox said. “Those things happen. Our guys, we’ve got a bond and he’s one of our family and he’ll be treated as such, like any kind of thing that happens in a family.”. Running back Jeremy Langford went through a full practice for the first time since training camp started. He had been the starting running back last season before a Week 3 ankle injury. Langford returned in November but had lost the job to Jordan Howard and never regained full health last season. . Wide receiver Markus Wheaton is sidelined after undergoing surgery on a broken finger.