Progress Report

The Bears defense played well in the season opener, but defensive coordinator Ron Rivera wants his unit to take it up a notch when they face the "Greatest Show on Turf."

"This is a mature offense," Rivera said. "This is a group of guys that have been together for quite some time. It'll be a real good test because we're talking about people that have done it for a while and have had a lot of success."

The Rams offense ranked sixth in 2004 behind a passing attack that features one of the most productive receiver tandems in the game. Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are coming off a season in which they totaled 183 receptions for 2,664 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Marc Bulger is a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback and is supported by a running game that now features Steven Jackson as the starter ahead of future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.

Head coach Lovie Smith knows firsthand what it takes to stop the Rams offense. He went up against it everyday for three seasons as the team's defensive coordinator from 2001-03.

"St. Louis, year in and year out, you think about offensive football, you have to think about the Rams," Smith said. "They have a veteran group, of course Marc Bulger and the receivers, running backs, all their skilled position guys. It's a big challenge for us."

The Rams are working with a patchwork offensive line, which should give the front four a chance to get after Bulger. The starters produced two sacks in five series against Miami, but failed to come up with a turnover.

The depth of the secondary will be stretched when Mike Martz decides to go three and four wide. Starters Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman will likely stay on the field for 20-25 plays. Jerrell Pippens has been working as the nickel back this week ahead of Rashied Davis, but both will see a lot of time tonight.

Rivera was generally pleased with the effort from his starters, but would like to see the second team improve from their effort against a weak Miami offense.

"We were a little wide eyed in certain positions," Rivera said. "Some of the young guys, the game was a little bit quicker and faster for them and I want to see those guys settle in and play better."


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