The Bears defense walked into the dining hall Thursday wearing black t-shirts with orange lettering.
"You Feel Pressure?" the shirts asked on the front. On the back: "I apply pressure. See. Take. Conquer 2010."
Brian Urlacher said Rod Marinelli is making them practice harder, longer and meaner. The Bears can thank him for the more physical practices. If he can pound it in the players and physically exhaust them in practice, games will be a cinch.
"Practice is hard now, all the individual, pursuit drills all those things," Marinelli explained. "And now can the guy go in and execute? Does he cave in on you. That’s our job too; to harden them up and make them accountable. Obviously in big lights now too, you want to see who can go out and execute looking around and all those things. It's all of it. We grade them every day."
But when the lights go on Saturday night at Soldier Field, the grading doesn't stop.
Jerry Angelo said he likes the competition at defensive end opposite Julius Peppers with Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije. The fact that Tommie Harris hasn't missed a practice in all of training camp should mean a very good season for them.
"A healthy Tommie [and] a practicing Tommie should be a very, very good football player," said Angelo.
The backups on the D-Line are stepping up too. Henry Melton was a raw player coming out of Texas after switching from running back to defensive end. Angelo likes what he sees.
"We think he's going to really blossom this year," Angelo said, noting that Melton has put on some weight and is catching the coaches eyes.
"He's done a very solid job right now," agreed Marinelli, explaining that Melton is versatile enough to play both inside and out.
"His progress is good. He's showing flashes now. He has a certain hardness to him. He’s a physical player. He’ll hit, this guy will really get after it," said Marinelli.
The Bears are looking for consistency with the backups on the defensive line and need another pass rusher.
There was hope for Jarron Gilbert, the YouTube sensation out of San Jose State who jumped out of the pool standing up. He's not exactly standing out on the football field.
"You're never satisfied. You want more. Each week the evaluation goes on," Marinelli said though praising the work habits of the 6-foot, 5-inch tackle/end. Angelo agreed however, that Gilbert needs to step it up.
"He’s had a handful of plays, he needs to pick it up obviously," said Angelo.
Rookie Corey Wootton out of Northwestern has a shot at making the roster, impressing with his motor in practice.
"Other than playing too tall," Marinelli said of the 6-foot, 6-inch defensive end. "Every down he plays hard. And he's physical, he listens, he's not thin skinned he's getting better every day."
How many defensive lineman will make the 53-man roster? Angelo said just eight or nine of them will, although they've carried as many as 10 in the past.
"We could get by with eight if we have to," he said.
It depends on who applies pressure and who sees, takes, and conquers.