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updated: 8/10/2012 8:55 AM

Bears start rocky but room for improvement

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  • Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) looks to pass under pressure from Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije (71) during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The Broncos won 31-3. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Welsh) MANDATORY CREDIT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT

      Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) looks to pass under pressure from Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije (71) during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The Broncos won 31-3. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Welsh) MANDATORY CREDIT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT

 
 

The start of Thursday night's preseason opener began several minutes late because of lightning at Soldier Field, but the Bears' offense never arrived in a 31-3 loss to the Denver Broncos.

There was no danger to Peyton Manning and his surgical neck from the Bears' pass rush in the one possession that the future Hall of Fame quarterback played.

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No pass rusher came close to Manning, while he completed 4 of his first 6 passes for 44 yards for his new team.

But his seventh pass was slightly behind Brandon Stokley, and it deflected from his grasp and was picked off the ground by Bears safety Major Wright at the 4-yard line.

"I feel like I know what I'm doing," Wright said. "I'm just ready for the regular season to kick off."

In a preseason opener more noteworthy for those who didn't play -- Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher (knee), Julius Peppers -- than those who did, the Bears got the pass-rush presence they hoped for from first-round pick Shea McClellin.

On the final play from scrimmage in the first quarter, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end from Boise State chased down Broncos backup quarterback Caleb Hanie for a 10-yard sack.

The rookie showed an impressive closing burst in running down the former Bears backup.

Late in the second quarter, McClellin had a quarterback pressure. But on the next play he was flagged for a blow to the head when he struck Hanie in the face mask with the crown of his helmet while the quarterback was being sacked by Nate Collins.

Late in the third quarter his hit on rookie quarterback Brock Osweiler nearly resulted in an interception.

With Cutler (who became a father for the first time a day earlier) getting the night off, veteran backup Jason Campbell got the start and played into the second quarter.

But even with the entire first-team offensive line playing all three of his possessions, Campbell wasn't able to generate any offense.

The unrestricted free-agent signee from Oakland completed 4 of 5 passes but for just 13 yards, and he was sacked once. It was the first game action of any kind for Campbell since he suffered a fractured collarbone in Week 6 last season.

"We were going up against a tremendous defense," he said. "We're not trying to do anything to really show what we have right now."

Mission accomplished.

"Set the bar is all we did in the first half," coach Lovie Smith said. "(I'm) not pleased in all three phases."

It was a poor night for the Bears' offensive line, and offensive coordinator Mike Tice could not have been pleased either.

Most starters on both sides of the ball for both teams were resting comfortably on the sidelines before the end of the first quarter, but not the Bears' offensive linemen.

They all played well into the second quarter, at which point only 12-year veteran Roberto Garza got a break, replaced by Edwin Williams.

Left guard Chris Spencer, who allowed a sack late in the second quarter, played the entire first half.

Left tackle J'Marcus Webb, who essentially won his battle with Chris Williams for the starting job by default, played into the fourth quarter, unheard of for a starter. Apparently Tice thought he needed the work, and maybe he did. Webb allowed a sack and had a false-start penalty.

If there was a bright spot for the offense, it was the play of second-round pick Alshon Jeffery.

The 6-3 wide receiver had 4 catches for 35 yards.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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