Loss, injuries temper optimism surrounding Bears

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) So much for all that optimism hovering over the Chicago Bears. The mood is decidedly different after a surprising season-opening loss at home to Buffalo.

Besides making some questionable plays against the Bills, the Bears got banged up. Pro Bowl receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall got hurt along with center Roberto Garza and left guard Matt Slauson.

Garza and Slauson exited with ankle injuries, leaving the Bears without two starters on the line. Jeffery spent most of the second half on the sideline with a hamstring injury and Marshall limited down the stretch after twisting his right ankle.

”All that will be ongoing for the rest of (Monday) and (Tuesday) while these guys get evaluated,” coach Marc Trestman said. ”All these guys are in the training room and they’ll all be evaluated and as soon as we get good data and information we’ll get it to you.”

It all added up to tempered optimism in the wake of a 23-20 overtime loss that will test the Bears’ resolve and maybe their depth. The last thing the Bears need coming out of a rough opener is to be short-handed, particularly with a trip to San Francisco for a game Sunday night.

Six of Chicago’s first nine games are on the road, including trips to New England and Green Bay. They also play the Packers at home at the end of this month.

A loss to the Bills wasn’t the sort of start the Bears had in mind. They have their sights set on a run to the playoffs after missing out six of the past seven seasons, with a prolific offense back intact and the defense sporting a new look after a makeover.

But the optimism that was surrounding this team is a bit dimmer.

”It’s too early to start blowing your top and losing focus of what’s important here,” defensive end Willie Young said. ”What’s important is making corrections and moving on to San Fran for the next week.”

Against Buffalo, the defense applied little pressure and gave up 193 yards rushing. Still, the Bills only managed 20 points in regulation, but they scored 13 off three turnovers by Chicago.

One in particular that stood out came in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 17-all.

The Bears had third-and-1 at the Buffalo 34 when Jay Cutler attempted to throw the ball across his body to Martellus Bennett even though he appeared to have room to run. The result was an interception for defensive tackle Kyle Williams, leading to a field goal that gave Buffalo a short-lived 20-17 lead.

Trestman said Cutler pointed the finger at himself during Monday’s video review for not throwing the ball away. Trestman also said the Bears would have gone for it on fourth down.

Still, the interception had a familiar and uncomfortable feel for Bears fans who have seen Cutler’s gambles backfire. The payoffs are also big, though.

”I’ve seen Jay in my time here do a lot of the right things with the football,” said Trestman, who is in his second season. ”I can’t speak for anything else. I’m disappointed for the team and I see how hard he works and he puts into it. He lost himself for a minute and made a decision that I know we’ve seen other great quarterbacks make and he certainly made it there.”

It didn’t help the Bears that they were missing some key components for chunks of the game. They were forced to play stretches with Santonio Holmes, Josh Morgan and Michael Spurlock at receiver, and with Garza and Slauson injured, they turned to Brian de la Puente and Michael Ola.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod praised their play, but he also said building cohesion on the line could take time if one or two starters are missing.

”I think we got a good start on that especially because we don’t really know how long those two guys are going to be out,” he said.

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