Welcome, rookie: Mike Evans teaches Bears CB Tyrique Stevenson some hard lessons

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TAMPA, Fla. — Asked about rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson’s tough day against Buccaneers Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans, Bears safety Jaquan Brisker could only point a finger at himself. 

“It’s not [about] one person. It’s all 11,” Brisker said after the Bears’ 27-17 loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. “Just like me. I dropped an interception today. I should have had one — the second play of the game that would have changed a lot.”

“A couple of those turnovers we make, it changes the game. We know it’s all about the ball. We’ve got to create more turnovers on defense [and] get our offense in better position to make plays.” 

It was that kind of day — again — for the Bears’ defense, which allowed 437 yards but finished strong enough to give the offense a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Brisker indeed had a golden opportunity to intercept a Baker Mayfield pass over the middle for Evans.

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“I broke on it, kind of ran into Mike a little bit, but I should have locked in on it,” said Brisker, who left the game with an illness in the first quarter but returned in the third quarter. “I’ve got to catch it in traffic. We work on that all the time. There’s no excuses. I told my teammates, ‘That’s on me.’ I’ve got to do better … lock in during the week with the jugs [machine], with the tennis balls, whatever I can do to help this team win, that’s what I’m gonna do.” 

Stevenson had a tougher day. After facing a modest receiving corps against the Packers last week, the second-round draft pick was given a real NFL baptism by Evans, a nine-time 1,000-yard receiver.

Evans had six receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown, with his biggest plays against Stevenson. He had a 70-yard gain — 50 yards after a push-off that All-Pros like Evans get away with against rookies like Stevenson — and a 32-yard touchdown on third-and-14 in the third quarter that gave the Buccaneers a 20-10 lead. 

“I learned there’s always room for improvement,” Stevenson said. “I’m a rookie in the league, I’ve got to do better with helping this defense as best I can. Being able to make plays. That’s why they brought me here.

“All the opportunities that happened [Sunday], I’ve just got to be better, capitalize on ‘em. I knew it was coming. Every game I know it’s coming. So I just got to be better in my technique and my knowledge of the game.”

As for the 70-yard play, Stevenson didn’t want to squawk about it, but “you brought it up, so definitely everybody saw it. Everybody knew what it was,” Stevenson said. “But they didn’t call it. He had what, 50-yard gain afterwards? So, no biggie.” 

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who hustled to push Evans out of bounds at the Bears’ 7-yard line, said he didn’t see the push-off live, but … 

“I’ve seen the replay,” Johnson said. “We saw full extension, the guy [Stevenson] fell. I don’t know what more they could have asked for as far as the body position and things like that. But they didn’t call it. I’m not too fond of it, but it is what it is.” 

Johnson said he felt for his teammate, but didn’t think the experience was a total loss. Stevenson is a highly regarded prospect who figures to learn from days like this. 

“It’s not like he can’t guard him, or like he was in a mismatch,” Johnson said. “But it’s mental things, and that’s teh biggest thing I can feel for [him], especially being a rookie once and having those kinds of mistakes mentally, where it’s like, ‘Man I know what I’m supposed to do’ but you don’t really execute.”

The Bears hope it’s all part of the process.

“You’ve got to learn. You’ve got to get burned,” Johnson said. “It’s something all DBs go through — you get thrown in the fire and get burned and then you end up making plays and everybody forgets about it. He’s just got to keep going, keep his head down and make some plays and nobody will be talking to him about it.”

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