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Jaquan Brisker’s motor runs hot — and it’s what the Bears need

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Jaquan Brisker was rattled when he completed concussion protocol in December. After missing two games, the safety wanted to get back to the style of play that had made him one of the Bears’ most dangerous players. But the rookie wasn’t quite sure how to do it.

“I had kind of lost myself,” he said.

Upon his return, Sam Acho — a Bears linebacker from 2015-19 — was the featured speaker at a Bears rookie meeting. He singled out the Penn State alum.

“He was like ‘You bring the energy and you bring the swag … ” Brisker said last week. “When he said that, that kind of struck me like, ‘That is me. I’ve got to get back to myself.’ Once he said that I was like, ‘Yeah, I know who I am.’”

The Bears spent the offseason adding to their defense. They spent a combined $91.5 million on Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards to shore up their linebacker corps. They’ll play alongside Jack Sanborn, who left practice with an undisclosed injury early Tuesday. They used a second-round pick and a third-round pick on rookie defensive tackles, and traded up in Round 2 to add Tyrique Stevenson to their cornerback mix.

Stylistically, though, Brisker remains the soul of the Bears defense — the physical tone-setter.

“He’s feisty,” safety Eddie Jackson said.

The Bears can use a lot more “feisty” in their lineup after a historically inept 2022. This century, only 25 teams gave up more than the 463 points the Bears allowed last season. The 6,390 yards they allowed also rank 26th since 2000.

“Everybody knew last year wasn’t great and we didn’t want to go back to that,” Brisker said. “So flip the page.”

It’ll take more than one season to do so. The Bears have singled Brisker as a building block to get to that point.

He made the best play of practice Tuesday, leaping along the right sideline to pull down an interception against the second-string offense. He started off in quarters coverage, broke off the right hash and caught the ball at his highest point.

“We love Jaquan’s emotion, his passion,” head coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday after the first padded practice of training camp. “And with a guy like that, his motor runs that hot where he has to harness it into a controlled situation where it works for him all the time. He’s done a great job of that.”

He did year, too, albeit on a defense that was the worst in the NFL. He was the rare starter worth keeping around.

With no firm answers at pass rusher — the Bears’ biggest offseason acquisition, DeMarcus Walker, left practice early Tuesday, while free-agent additions have proven elusive — they might be forced to blitz Brisker again out of necessity. The Bears’ defensive line was so impotent last season that Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who have been loath to blitz, historically, brought Brisker as an extra rusher. He finished with a team-best four sacks — a damning statement about the Bears’ pass rush.

Brisker expects the Bears to move him around the field even more this season. Jackson has traditionally been the Bears’ free safety, with Brisker in the run-supporting strong spot. But Brisker hinted the Bears could mix it up. He wants the team to use him a lot — “Like a bar of soap … like Dove,” he said — and particularly when it matters most.

“Just move me around,” he said. “Just get me around the ball to help the team and help the defense. Just put me in different spots, different places and just let me go to the ball.”



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