Bears have work to do after first preseason game
Jay Cutler got pulled before he ever entered the game. Matt
Forte and Julius Peppers watched from the sideline, and Brian
Urlacher wasn’t even at the stadium.
Considering the Chicago Bears were missing four of their best
players and that other stars got a quick hook, it’s not hard to see
why they lost 31-3 to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the
preseason opener on Thursday. But there are some things to take
away from the game.
One is that they clearly have work to do.
”We didn’t play as well as I thought we would,” coach Lovie
Then again, they were missing some key pieces.
Urlacher’s absence was hardly a shocker after he missed time in
six practices because of his injured left knee and for personal
reasons, but Forte and Peppers were also spectators. So was Cutler.
He had already warmed up when Smith decided to give the quarterback
a breather after his fiancee, Kristin Cavallari, gave birth to a
boy the previous day. The coach also wanted to get a look at
newcomer Jason Campbell working with the first team.
The result? Well, there’s room to improve.
The Bears managed 41 yards in the first half.
”It’s difficult a little bit,” said Campbell, who was 4 of 5
for 13 yards before Josh McCown relieved him. ”You really don’t
want to show a whole lot of things we’ve been doing in training
camp. We’re an explosive group. Tonight it didn’t seem that way
because tonight we didn’t do a lot of those things.”
Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall caught one pass before
calling it a night in his first appearance after the Bears acquired
him from Miami, and Devin Hester didn’t play much, either. One
starter who did was left tackle J’Marcus Webb.
He stayed in until midway through the fourth quarter.
”Just some players we thought needed reps, we needed to see,”
Smith said. ”Our tackles are two of them. We wanted to get them a
lot of reps as much as anything. Just practice time, improving our
ballclub. Some of the guys we kind of know a little more about
It’s unusual for teams to leave starters in for more than one or
two series in the preseason opener, let alone play them into the
fourth quarter. But the Bears seemed to be delivering a loud
message – Webb needs to step up his game if he’s going to keep his
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice has been a big supporter, but he
has also acknowledged that no one has really grabbed the job. That
position is the biggest question mark on a team that’s eyeing a big
run after a disappointing 8-8 finish.
The Bears believe they have the depth to go deep in the playoffs
after a busy offseason, but it remains to be seen if they can
finally protect their quarterback, particularly on his blind side.
Webb committed a false start on the first play of the second
quarter and didn’t exactly dominate, but he wasn’t terrible,
”We’ll look at the film,” he said. ”I’ve got to get better
with knowing situations and getting better with the camaraderie
with my fellow lineman.”
As for the long night at work?
”I didn’t look at it that way,” he said. ”I think it was a
time to get better. I’m a young player and if the team needs me to
stay in, then I will.”
On the other side of the ball, rookie defensive end Shea
McClellin had a better night after taking a beating in training
camp. The first-round pick from Boise State sacked former Bears
quarterback Caleb Hanie for a 10-yard loss late in the first
quarter and was credited with three tackles and two quarterback
He also was called for a 15-yard personal foul for a blow to
Hanie’s head near the end of the half, so it wasn’t a flawless
performance. It was promising, though, for a player who has already
taken his share of criticism.
”I have a lot to learn, a lot to work out,” McClellin said.
”It’s a start. There were some good things, some bad things.”