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updated: 10/1/2011 7:28 PM

No Cutler-Williams connection so far for Bears

Cutler, Williams far from the same page

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  • Wide receiver Roy Williams talks with Bears head coach Lovie Smith the day after joining the team in late July.

    Wide receiver Roy Williams talks with Bears head coach Lovie Smith the day after joining the team in late July.
    Associated Press


In his third year in Chicago, quarterback Jay Cutler still doesn't have a go-to receiver.

Last season five players had more than 40 catches, but no one had more than 51.

In 2009, five players had 45 or more catches, but the leader -- tight end Greg Olsen with 60 -- will be on the opposite sideline Sunday at Soldier Field when the Bears face the Panthers.

If Roy Williams is supposed to be that guy, as offensive coordinator Mike Martz implied when Williams was signed July 29, the early returns are disappointing at best.

Williams has 4 catches for 55 yards and no touchdowns, although he could have had one last week against Green Bay if he hadn't drop a pass at the goal line.

In that game, Cutler and Williams demonstrated absolutely zero compatibility. They were rarely on the same page, and they rarely appeared to be on the same playbook.

To say they looked out of sync would be a major understatement, since two of Cutler's passes that were intended for Williams were horribly overthrown, and both resulted in interceptions.

"It just happens over time," Cutler said of developing a go-to guy, like he had in Denver with Brandon Marshall. "In games, there's a trust factor there, where you know they're going to be there when they're supposed to be there and will make the catches and make the plays.

"It doesn't happen overnight. You can't just go, 'This is our go-to guy,' because it doesn't work like that. You've got to go out there and rep it and just experience it."

Johnny Knox tied for the team lead last season with 51 catches, and he had 960 receiving yards, 399 more than Earl Bennett, who was second with 561.

This year Knox's starting job was given to Roy Williams for no apparent reason, although Knox has started the past two games, while Williams battled through a groin injury.

But even when Cutler and Williams have been on the field together, they look like the odd couple, and they sound as if they are strangers.

Asked during the week if Williams were 100 percent recovered from the injury that sidelined him in Week 2, Cutler said: "I don't know. You're going to have to talk to him about it.

"At the end of the day, we need more time together, we need more practices together, we need more reps together for me to feel comfortable on Sunday."

Usually that's what happens during training camp and the preseason. But Williams was dinged up during camp, when he didn't appear to be in great shape. He caught just 2 passes in the preseason.

Back then Martz speculated that Williams could be a 70-80-catch guy, but he already has dialed down that prediction.

"The combination of he and Johnny, when you look at the opener, when they were both healthy and were going, now that's pretty good," Martz said. "That's really good.

"And that's what you want at that position. That position combined, 80, 90 catches maybe and a whole lot of yards, and between the two of them that's certainly a possibility."

Williams hinted that he still wasn't all the way back from the groin injury against the Packers, and he complained that he got cold standing on the sideline, even though the game-time temperature was 61.

Well, what happens in November and December when the Bears play four home games? They also visit Green Bay and Denver in December.

Williams was asked how long it takes to build chemistry with a quarterback and he said: "Who knows? It varies from player to player. You just have to keep grinding and just keep going at it day to day and when it finally goes off we'll be good."

Coach Lovie Smith said the slow development of the Cutler-Williams combination isn't what concerns him most.

"I was more concerned about Roy being injured and just not being able to practice and be able to get going in the offense," Smith said. "He's back. (This was his) second week of really having good practices, so hopefully we won't be talking about that next week."

You can always hope.

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