LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Corey Wootton had a feeling Julius Peppers was going to come up big in last week's game against the Ravens.
The eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end had vowed to do just that, and he delivered, sacking Joe Flacco twice in the Bears' overtime victory over Baltimore.
It was what the Bears were accustomed to seeing on a regular basis in recent years. And it was also something Peppers was not delivering.
"He's a guy that takes a lot of pride in his ability, his craft and what he puts on the field," Wootton said.
"We've all been a little disappointed by the production. He told us we need to step up and he said he was going to have a great game. I had 100 percent faith in him that he would — and he did."
Peppers been more of an invisible man this season, but there are signs he's perking up. That's certainly good news for a defense that's struggled through injuries and poor play.
The Bears are tied with Detroit for the NFC North lead at 6-4 heading into this week's game at St. Louis, and if they're going to make a playoff run, an effective Peppers sure would help.
It hasn't been an easy season for him or the rest of Chicago's defense.
Peppers missed some practices in the preseason because of a hamstring injury and battled flu symptoms early in the season.
He got off to a slow start, raising questions about his future in Chicago and whether if at 33 his best days were behind him.
Three times in the first seven games he failed to register a tackle, and he had one sack during that stretch. But in the three games since the Bears' bye, he's looked more like the Peppers of old.
He had a sack and an interception in a win at Green Bay, and after a quiet game against Detroit, he made the Ravens miserable. He doubled his sack total to four and was credited with 11 tackles, easily his season high.
"We've chatted in my office a couple of times, just to catch up on things," coach Marc Trestman said. "I just feel like he's got a lot of pride in this football team. He doesn't want to let it down. He's done everything he can to get himself ready and I think we've managed his practice time very well."
Monitoring Peppers' practice time is one of the ways the Bears are maximizing a defense that struggled from the start and got torn apart by injuries.