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Bears’ Moore could get push at nickel back

(MCT) — CHICAGO — D.J. Moore is nowhere near satisfied with his overall play. Neither are the coaches.

The Bears nickel back understands the adjustments needed to elevate his game. Moore has two interceptions in seven games while seeing action primarily on third down. But getting his hands on the ball isn’t the issue.

“I’ve probably missed too many tackles,” Moore admitted.

Moore might be missing a bit more than tackles, based on his weekly grades from nickel backs coach Mikal Smith.

“He probably feels I’m not playing good,” Moore said. “I think Mikal, as he’s graded ... they’ve been low based on a couple of missed tackles or whatever.”

Moore wouldn’t say whether the low grades affected his practice reps this week, but the coaches have the option of turning to veteran Kelvin Hayden if they believe Moore isn’t playing up to par.

Hayden played a season-high 53 snaps in the season opener against the Colts as he stepped in to replace an injured Charles Tillman (leg) at cornerback. In the last game versus the Panthers, Moore played 31 of 82 snaps (37.8 percent) while Hayden played just six snaps.

Hayden is a better man-to-man defender, but Moore has shown a tendency to be a playmaker with 10 interceptions in 39 career games.

Moore was asked about Hayden pushing him at the position.

“It ain’t just about pushing me. It depends on how Coach (Mikal Smith) feels about what he wants to do and how he wants to do it,” Moore said. “I could feel that I’m playing good, but he could feel that I’m playing however. It just depends on his opinion and how he feels about it.”

Moore never has been afraid to voice his opinion. He believes there’s a simple solution to improving his play.

“Play more,” he said. “I’m just being honest with you. I’ve probably got less plays than I did at this point last year, and it’s probably about the same amount of production. I’ll find a way to get out there somehow.”

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli talked about his expectations of the nickel backs.

“A nickel back is just about like a (strong-side) linebacker when it’s all said and done,” Marinelli said. “You have to be really detailed in all the run fits. You have to be a great zone player, a great blitz player. That’s why we keep a good dose of competition there.”

The Moore-Hayden competition could be one worth monitoring.

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