Deon Bush’s 91-yard interception return helps restore Bears’ dangerous defense
It was Deon Bush’s second interception of the preseason — and it provided reassurance that the Bears have plenty of depth at safety.
INDIANAPOLIS — Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski dove to break up the pass on a crossing route Saturday night. By the time he landed on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, he waved his arms side to side, like a referee signaling an incomplete pass.
Rookie cornerback Duke Shelley, though, saw what happened. He pointed to the Colts’ end zone, 90-some-yards, away, as if to say: “Run that way.”
Safety Deon Bush didn’t need anyone to tell him what to do once he wrestled the ball away from Colts tight end Hale Hentges at the Bears’ own 11-yard line about six minutes into the second quarter.
The Bears’ backup safety sprinted 91 yards for a touchdown. He was untouched — the only person to come near Bush was quarterback Chad Kelly, around the Colts’ 35-yard line. The safety hit the brakes, cut back inside and left the quarterback in the dust.
Thinking Hentges may have touched Bush when was down, the play was reviewed. It stood, however, the touchdown counted and as the Bears defeated the Colts, 27-17, in their third preseason game.
The play marked Bush’s second interception of the preseason — and reassurance that the Bears have plenty of depth at the safety position.
Bush performed ably when he replaced Eddie Jackson at the end of last season, and has looked sharp the past month. He’ll be the first backup should Jackson or newcomer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix get hurt this season. The former seems unlikely — Clinton-Dix has never missed a regular season game. However, there’s no telling how Clinton-Dix and Jackson, two former college teammates, will perform together. They’ve yet to appear in the same regular-season game, and won’t be side-by-side in a competitive setting until Week 1 against the Packers.
After halftime, Bush jogged back out of the tunnel without his helmet on. He deserved the rest of the game off. Coach Matt Nagy benched his starters for the third preseason game, leaving backups a chance to make their mark— or make the team. Bush was someone in between — he’s made the team but isn’t a starter. Still, his performance had to be comforting.
The Bears’ defense, which led the NFL in takeaways last season, looked like that same unit Saturday night. They looked dangerous again,
They added their second defensive touchdown of the game late in the third quarter. James Vaughters, the veteran outside linebacker competing for the team’s last backup spot, hit fourth-string Colts quarterback Phillip Walker as he was preparing to throw a ball toward the left sideline.
He threw a three-hopper that was scooped up by linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe, who, with Colts players’ stopped, jogged in for a 22-yard touchdown. The Bears’ defense was responsible for 12 of the team’s 27 points.
It was just a preseason game —played by backups, no less — but it made for a happy homecoming for new coordinator Chuck Pagano. The Colts’ head coach from 2012-17 returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since he was fired. He was honored with a video in the first quarter.
It wouldn’t take long after that, however, for his new players to make themselves known.