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updated: 9/13/2011 12:59 PM

Bears not satisfied, Saints still hurting

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  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler looks to pass in the first half Sunday against the Falcons.

      Bears quarterback Jay Cutler looks to pass in the first half Sunday against the Falcons.
    Associated Press

  • Bears head coach Lovie Smith cracks a smile as he walks off the field with the victory against the Falcons at Soldier Field.

      Bears head coach Lovie Smith cracks a smile as he walks off the field with the victory against the Falcons at Soldier Field.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Even though they had a surprisingly easy time dispatching the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, the Bears weren't satisfied with their overall performance.

And they know they may have a more difficult assignment this week against another NFC South power when they play the Saints in New Orleans.

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"That's the way you want to start it off," coach Lovie Smith said Monday of the 30-12 victory. "(But) we're still looking at video, and we're seeing a lot of mistakes. A lot of opportunities we let slip by.

"You're supposed to win at home, especially with your crowd into the football game the way ours was. We have a big test coming up on the road."

The Bears could be catching the Saints at the most opportune time.

They will be without wide receiver Marques Colston, who suffered a fractured collarbone against the Green Bay Packers. He led the Saints last season with 1,023 yards and 84 catches, including 7 TD grabs.

Another wide receiver, Lance Moore, is expected to miss the Bears game because of a groin injury that kept him out of the season-opening 42-34 loss. Moore led the Saints last season with 8 TD catches. He had 66 receptions for 763 yards, good for second best on the team.

Still, when it comes to offensive weapons, the Saints are rarely short-handed. Nine players caught at least 29 passes last season, and quarterback Drew Brees still threw for 396 yards in Week 1.

Six players caught at least 4 passes and four players had 70 or more receiving yards, including new running back Darren Sproles (7 catches, 75 yards), and deep-threat wide receiver Devery Henderson (6 catches, 100 yards).

Defensive end Will Smith, arguably the Saints' best pass rusher, is out. He is serving the second of a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Smith had just 5 sacks last season, but he had 13 in 2009.

That's good news for a Bears offensive line still in its formative stage.

Jay Cutler was sacked five times while throwing for 312 yards against Atlanta.

"We did a good job, but obviously Jay got hit, and we can't allow that to happen," center Roberto Garza said. "And some of those run plays, we have to stay on our guys a little bit longer and we have to create some movement.

"We're on track. It was a first game, and we have a long way to go."

They may have some tinkering in their future if Lance Louis' sprained right ankle lingers.

When Louis departed in the second quarter, veteran Chris Spencer stepped in at right guard without any noticeable decline in performance. Most of Spencer's training-camp and preseason reps came at center, where he has spent almost all of his playing time in six seasons.

Garza spent the vast majority of his first 10 seasons at right guard, so another option could have been moving him back there and inserting Spencer at center.

"A lot of thought (was given to that)," coach Smith said. "That's why we were really pleased with what (Spencer) was able to do. He hasn't gotten a lot of reps at the guard position. But when your number's called …

"Chris jumped right in and did a pretty good job for a guy that hasn't gotten a lot of reps. If Lance can't go this week, we'll have decisions to make. But it gives us a lot of flexibility when two of our players have played both positions."

On the outside, rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi and second-year left tackle J'Marcus Webb endured some growing pains. Webb was beaten for a sack by elite pass rusher John Abraham and called for 2 holding penalties.

"I know the offensive line is going to get blamed for everything that ever happens if there's a sack," Smith said. "I understand that. But there's a lot more than that. It's us getting rid of the ball quicker. It's a combination of all (things).

"We're not Super Bowl ready or anything like that. We're just getting started. Hopefully we can make a lot of progress this week."

•Follow Bob's Bears reports via Twitter @BobLeGere and check out our Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com.

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