By Dan Durkin-

(CBS) The Bears’ injury list from Wednesday’s practice was bigger than usual, partly because it was a veteran’s day off for running back Matt Forte, linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff.

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Here’s the rest of the list of players who didn’t participate:

— WR Brandon Marshall (ankle)
— WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring)
— DT Ego Ferguson (illness)
— LB Darryl Sharpton (hamstring)
— WR Chris Williams (hamstring)
— DE Trevor Scott (knee)

The injury to Williams was enough to force the Bears to make a roster move Tuesday. They signed returner/receiver Marc Mariani and waived safety Ahmad Dixon.

Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis spoke highly of Mariani.

“First of all, he’s got great what I call returner mechanics,” DeCamillis said. “He runs through the ball on kickoff returns, he catches punts like textbook. Jeff Fisher was the one that taught him coming out of college and he’s got great, great returner mechanics. Second thing is he’s tough, and third thing is he can make people miss in space.”

Defense held a players-only meeting 

A players-only meeting that the defense held last week week before the win against the Vikings was supposed to be a secret, and both Briggs and defensive end Jared Allen were surprised the media knew that it took place.

It turns out defensive coordinator Mel Tucker approached some of his veteran players and asked them to set up the players-only film session as a different form of accountability and communication. It was also an opportunity to hear a different voice.

“Lance is the quarterback of our defensive team,” Allen said. “So sometimes it’s nice to let him quarterback a meeting. Let him call the plays. Get into a feel of when they’re watching film. I think more of it too is so younger guys can see what I see, what we see on the film. I think it’s a great teaching tool if I’m talking, if I’m looking at something and I tell Tim (Jennings), ‘Hey, I saw this, so I did this. If we see this play again, what are you going to do in the back end?'”

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Allen talked about a similar situation in the past when he was with the Chiefs.

“Ty Law was one of the guys that taught me about working with DBs,” Allen said. “He used to come up to me … and ask, ‘Hey are you beating this guy? What are you doing?’ I didn’t really understand why he was saying that, until I saw him jump like a slant or jump a route and then I said, ‘Ah, OK. If I’m beating my guy he’s going to play his guy tighter. If not he’s going to need extra time.’ I think it’s just stuff that gets passed on, and it’s kind of our responsibility as older guys to help these young guys grow and this is just another way of doing it.”

Last week’s performance against Minnesota was the defense’s best of the season, as it limited the Vikings to 243 yards, the lowest of a Bears’ opponent this season.

Briggs reflects upon with Lovie

Briggs played for first-year Bucs coach Lovie Smith for nine seasons, and it’s clear how strong of a bond they formed over that period of time. Briggs spoke about Smith’s motivation techniques early on in his career, but also about how Smith’s style of Cover-2 differs from other coaches.

The Bears host the Bucs this Sunday at Soldier Field.

“There’s a lot of different, there’s different rules that make sense, but it really comes down to the men,” Briggs said. “It’s the men that make the difference. So when we would practice, the way we would practice, as far as everybody getting to the ball, you know, attacking, attacking right now. The sentiment is our opponent can’t prepare for the way that we play. You know, they can prepare for Cover-2 or Cover-1, but they can’t prepare for the way that we’re going to play and that’s going to be a fast-paced, hitting, very physical team.”

Briggs also weighed in on Smith’s place in team history.

“Lovie should be remembered as one of the great coaches in Chicago,” Briggs said. “George Halas, you have Mike Ditka and Lovie Smith comes next.”

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Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.