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Bears’ Corey Wootton, Shea McClellin get end results vs. Chargers

San Diego Chargers v Chicago Bears

San Diego Chargers v Chicago Bears

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Updated: August 16, 2013 12:28AM



The Bears’ defense showed more signs of a seamless transition from Lovie Smith to Mel Tucker on Thursday night — most prominently on impact plays by Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin.

The young defensive ends are being counted on to play at a higher level this year, and they showed up against the Chargers at Soldier Field.

Wootton beat tackle D.J. Fluker to sack Philip Rivers for a nine-yard loss. McClellin whipped tackle Max Starks on the other side to sack Rivers for a 10-yard loss, forcing a fumble that safety Major Wright recovered at the Chargers’ 35-yard line.

Wootton and McClellin contributed to another impressive effort by the defense, including three takeaways. Besides Wright’s fumble recovery, safety Chris Conte had an interception and defensive tackle Corvey Irvin recovered a fumbled snap in the second quarter.

‘‘The defense has been doing a great job,’’ Wootton said. ‘‘I think coach [Mel] Tucker’s been doing a great job. We’ve been keeping the scheme pretty much the same as last year, so guys can just play fast. We have a lot of veteran guys who are helping out the young guys.

‘‘The transition has been great — just seeing how fast we’re playing. Last week we started out OK. But this week we started out real fast. The biggest thing is just getting that comfort level out there.’’

The Bears’ first-team defense forced two punts and had two takeaways on its first four series. McClellin stopped running back Ryan Mathews for a one-yard loss, and linebacker James Anderson made a nice pass breakup against Antonio Gates on third down to force a punt.

After Wootton’s sack put the Chargers in a third-and-14 situation, Conte intercepted Rivers at the Chargers’ 35 on a deep pass intended for Keenan Allen, who tripped over cornerback Tim Jennings when the two got tangled downfield.

McClellin’s sack and Wright’s fumble recovery came after Rivers had thrown a 15-yard pass to Gates to the Chargers’ 45.

The Chargers drove to the Bears’ 39 on their next possession, but Nate Collins, starting at defensive tackle for Henry Melton (concussion), sacked Rivers for a six-yard loss to force a punt.

The defense made another big play on its next series, but this time with help from the Chargers. Backup QB Charlie Whitehurst fumbled his first snap, and Irvin recovered at the Chargers’ 13. That set up Robbie Gould’s 25-yard field goal that gave the Bears a 20-0 lead.

Cornerback Charles Tillman said he was most pleased with the takeaways. But he still sees a lot of work to be done.

‘‘We’re still getting the turnovers,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘But there were some tackling issues. A couple of guys didn’t get lined up. Little things. But they’re correctable. This is a good game to get out the mistakes. But I do like what I see with our defense.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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