Bears' pass rushers rising to competition

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith considers the current surge of sacks from his defensive line a byproduct of the players performing in survival mode at practice.

With 10 defensive linemen on the roster, the players know the team typically dresses seven for games.

“We base it a lot on how they practice each week,” Smith said Sunday after his defense generated six sacks in a 23-6 win over the St. Louis Rams. “They realize that, so you have to have your A-game every day to get into a position to play these games. Maybe it’s just as simple as that.”

Maybe it’s not. Either way, the Bears are pleased with the results on the field.

The Bears entered the game Sunday tied for second in the NFL in sacks (8) before tacking on six more on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. Israel Idonije led the Bears with 2.5 sacks. Amobi Okoye, Nick Roach and Stephen Paea tacked on one apiece while defensive end Julius Peppers added another.

Playing opposite Peppers, Idonije experienced somewhat of a down year in 2011 because of health issues. Now fully healthy, Idonije said “it’s nice to be able to make plays.”

Peppers said relentless play is an expectation for the club’s front four and “that’s nothing to be patting anybody on the back about.”

“We should be playing like that,” Peppers said. “We’re going to continue to play like that throughout the season.”

Paea agreed.

“We need to get pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “If it’s not sacks, then it’s pressure on the quarterback that changes the game. He’s the one that has the ball. He’s going to make decisions a couple of plays later. If he’s hurt, he’s going to make tough decisions.”