Bears Rookie Sounds Off After Making NFL Debut: ‘Addicting’

Bears Debut

For Chicago Bears rookie defensive linemen Travis Bell, Gervon Dexter Sr., and Zacch Pickens, Saturday’s win over the Tennessee Titans was just the beginning.

All three players spoke after Saturday’s victory.

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“Cool, calm, and collected today,” Bell said in the locker room after the 23-17 win. “I was nervous all week. But once I got out there on the field I was cool, calm, and collected.

Bell’s three Cs showed as the No. 214 overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft – the last of the trio – graded out as the highest of the three, per Pro Football Focus. He finished the game with two tackles, a sack, and a quarterback hurry in 19 snaps.

“That felt great,” Bell said of sacking Titans’ passer Malik Willis. “Just getting that first one out the way, seeing how that feel. It’s a great feeling. It’s addicting now so, hopefully, more to come.”

Bell’s was one of eight takedowns of Titans quarterbacks by the Bears’ defense on the day. He officially split it with undrafted free agent EDGE rusher, Jalen Harris. But Bell’s penetration through Tennessee’s offensive line saw him get home first with Harris not far behind to end the play.

“I’m looking forward to it next week,” Bell said. “I was getting antsy on that sideline all day, standing for a little minute. But I was happy to get in, show what I can do a little bit.”

Zacch Pickens, Gervon Dexter Weigh In on Opener

The Bears saw seven player pitch in with Bell and Harris splitting one and Harris adding another on top of two for fellow EDGE Terrell Lewis, and one apiece for Pickens, Micah Baskerville, Trevis Gipson, and Noah Sewell.”

Pickens, who was selected in the third round (No. 64 overall) this year also recovered a fumble.

“It felt good, I’m not gonna lie. Dream come true,” Pickens said. “I feel like I can set some expectations for myself. I feel pretty good. I’m gonna stick to my routine, do the same thing I been doing.”

Pickens was credited for four total tackles (two solo), the sack, one quarterback hit, and the forced fumble, while also receiving the highest tackling grade of the group, per PFF.

Dexter was the highest pick of the three, taken in the second round with the No. 51 overall pick in this year’s draft.

He also received the lowest overall grade of the three players but did record three tackles, finishing just behind Pickens’ 71.2 grade at 69.6.

“I say a good ‘C-’,” Dexter said when asked to give himself a grade. “I did some pretty good things but also had some stuff I had to work on. Feels good to get first game out the way, kind of settle in…I kind of came into this game wanting to stop the run. I think I did a pretty good job there. Just try to get better. Next rep, just try to get better.”

Like Bell – and Lewis before him – Dexter said he was looking forward to next week when the Bears will spend the bulk of the week down in Westfield, Indiana practicing against the Indianapolis Colts ahead of their Week 2 preseason tilt.

“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m ready for that one…join practices, ready to fly around with those guys, and get better.”

Three The Hard Way

All three players coming into the same situation has fostered an environment for them to form a bond. For Dexter and Pickens, that relationship started even before being drafted but has only grown since and now includes Bell.

“Me and Gervon, we always had a little connection because we always see each other, and we always speak to each other,” Pickens said after practice on August 9. “Then both get drafted at the same time, same team. And our connection is starting to grow. We’re starting to appreciate each other, hanging out a little bit, communicating on the field, especially when we on the field together.

“Besides Dexter, it be T-Bell – Travis Bell. Whenever we out there together, we communicate, we do the same thing basically with G. We all – me, T-Bell and G – we all got like a good friendship going on.”

Dexter also noted how they don’t just click on the football field.

“We all came in together, been through the rookie minicamp together, and them drafting three D-linemen, so we came in pretty close,” Dexter said. “We do a lot of stuff together off the field so we built that bond that way.”

“Rookie minicamp, just coming in, hanging out with those guys,” said Bell. “We just built a bond and connection – them my boys.”