BOURBONNAIS -- Jay Cutler is still in a festive mood heading into Thursday night's preseason opener, but the quarterback admits there's a lot of work to be done before the Bears start playing games that mean something.
"It's like Easter now," said Cutler, who likened the start of training camp and his new offensive weapons to Christmas. "We're still in the holidays. It's fun. We've got a lot of weapons.
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"Even the free-agent receivers we've got, they're getting better and better, and they're asking questions. (General manager) Phil Emery and the scouting department, you can definitely tell the difference in talent in the three years (I've been) here. Even the guys that didn't get drafted can play football."
Those are the guys who will get most of the playing time against the Broncos at Soldier Field. According to offensive coordinator Mike Tice, the starters will play just a "handful" of snaps, but Cutler said he's still anxious to play a game after 14 days in camp.
"It feels like we've been here for a long time, going against the same guys every day, (and the) same defense," he said. "It's going to be fun to go out there and see some different looks and just see exactly what we have offensively and defensively."
Cutler says he's anxious to see where the Broncos' offense is under the direction of new quarterback Peyton Manning and backup Caleb Hanie, Cutler's understudy the previous three years with the Bears.
"Caleb's says everything looks great, (and) that Peyton looks great," Cutler said. "It'll be interesting to see how much carryover offensively they brought over from Indy, how the new receivers are doing. There are a lot of question marks over there, but Peyton's Peyton. He's going to be on top of things, and I'm sure he's going to look fine."
Cutler and the Bears' offense have looked impressive at times during camp, but there's a lot of room for improvement. He threw 3 interceptions in Monday's practice, getting picked by linebackers Lance Briggs and Nick Roach and nickel cornerback D.J. Moore, and the offense as a whole struggled in the red zone.
"I don't think anybody's really where they want to be," Cutler admitted. "We're making mistakes out here. I'm making mistakes out here. So there are things we've got to clean up.
"Once we get into that third preseason game and really start game-planning and really start hammering home what we want to do offensively against every defensive look, then we'll really get a gauge of where we're at."
The interception by Briggs came in the red zone on a pass intended for second-year wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher. Immediately afterward the quarterback and wideout had a discussion, during which Cutler was animated.
"It's kind of an option route, so there are some things that we need to clean up on both of our ends," Cutler said. "I was just discussing it with him civilly."
Probably just like the Native Americans and the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving.