The many sun-drenched fans who arrived late for the start of the Bears' preseason game against Jacksonville on Thursday night missed their chance to see the home team's first-round draft pick.
Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller turned his ankle on the game's opening kickoff and never returned. It was a contrast from recent years, when the Bear wearing No. 23 often provided a special-teams highlight.
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By the end of the first quarter, most of the announced crowd of 51,235 had showed up. The Bears' defense was another story, however.
Despite the debut of five-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Jared Allen in a navy No. 69 jersey, the Bears' new-look defense looked a lot like last year's, which ranked 30th overall and last against the run.
The Bears allowed the Jaguars -- winners of 4 games a year ago -- to reel off 9 plays on their opening series and 12 more on their second. The visitors used a no-huddle attack, with quarterback Chad Henne often operating out of the shotgun.
"Our wind got tested on a couple of those no-huddle situations, but other than that, I think it was an overall good day for the (No.) 1 group," Allen said. "We'll clean some things up."
By quarter's end, Jacksonville had outgained the Bears 134 yards to 8 and had built a 13-0 lead. That, against the Bears' first-team defense, which included newcomers Allen, Lamarr Houston, Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray.
"I think we're a humbled group," said linebacker Lance Briggs, before the Bears rallied in the fourth quarter to win 20-19. "We're working real hard right now. We'll keep taking steps in the right direction. You're never going to know (in the preseason). It's good to get tested against an opponent, but you're never really going to know until Week 1."
Allen missed last week's preseason opener to be with his wife, who was giving birth to the couple's second daughter. The Bears' new No. 50, Shea McClellin, started at strong linebacker, and the former first-rounder again failed to remind anyone of Mike Singletary, or even James Anderson (last year's No. 50).
In his pro debut last week, Fuller, who inherited Devin Hester's No. 23, started at cornerback in the Bears' nickel package, with Tim Jennings moving inside. Fuller's absence against Jacksonville provided veteran Kelvin Hayden a start at nickel. Hayden was flagged for illegal contact on third-and-13 from the Bears 26 late in the first quarter. Five plays later, Henne threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Marqise Lee.
The Bears said after the game they will have an update on Fuller today.
A trio of Josh Scobee field goals had Jacksonville up 16-7 at halftime and a fourth extended the Jags' advantage to 19-7 entering the fourth.
Allen's season debut included a tackle for loss on running back Toby Gerhart. He also had a chance to tackle Henne in the backfield on third-and-4 from the Jacksonville 34, on the Jags' opening series, but didn't make the play, as Henne completed a 10-yard pass to Marqise Lee.
"I thought I had the quarterback lined up," Allen said with a smile. "The next thing you know, he bailed out of there. I thought the tackle kind of threw me on the ground. I'll have to go look (at the tape). That's the toughest part about transitioning from training camp into a real game."
McClellin was beaten in pass coverage late in the opening half as Jags first-round pick Blake Bortles completed a 24-yard strike to wide receiver Mike Brown.
"It's going well," Briggs said of McClellin's transition from defensive end to linebacker. "It's a new feel for him. He's seeing things a little bit differently, but Shea's real smart. He's very athletic. The thing about him in practice and even in the game, he's always around the ball."
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