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updated: 8/20/2017 8:22 AM

Glennon better, but work still needs to be done

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  • Chicago Bears quarterback Mike Glennon (8) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

    Chicago Bears quarterback Mike Glennon (8) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

 
 

First and foremost in Saturday night's second preseason game, the Bears needed a better performance from starting quarterback Mike Glennon specifically, and from the first-team offense in general.

Bears GM Ryan Pace was asked on Fox's pregame show about the possibility of deviating from the original plan, which was to have Glennon start this season with rookie Mitch Trubisky taking over in 2018.

"The (entire) first team has to play better," Pace said. "It has to play out."

It played out better for Glennon vs. the Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz., as the Bears evened their preseason record at 1-1 with a 24-23 victory. But there is still work to be done.

Glennon and the offense got off to a better start after his 0.0 passer rating in the first preseason game. The Bears drove 41 yards in 8 plays on their second possession to a field goal and a 3-0 lead. The Bears' attack looked even better on its next possession -- until a fatal mistake by Glennon.

After driving 72 yards in 11 plays, from their own 17-yard line to the Cardinals' 11, Glennon was late on a sideline throw intended for Kendall Wright. Cardinals Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu read the route, darted in front of Wright and went 43 yards with the pick to set up an Arizona TD. Prior to the pick, Glennon had completed 3 straight passes to three different receivers.

Glennon bounced back to lead the Bears to a 10-7 lead on a two-minute TD drive that ended with 36 seconds left in the first half. The score came on Glennon's 7-yard TD pass to Wright and was set up by an 18-yard pass to Cam Meredith. Glennon completed 13 of 18 passes for 89 yards.

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson returned a missed Cardinals FG attempt 109 yards fro a TD on the final play of the half to give the Bears a 17-7 lead.

With left guard Kyle Long inactive, still not participating in the team portions of practice (11-on-11) and unlikely to be 100 percent for the regular-season opener three weeks away, the Bears unveiled a possible contingency plan against the Cardinals.

Cody Whitehair, who started all 16 games at center last year as a rookie, moved to Long's left guard spot, and Hroniss Grasu was promoted to starting center. Grasu went to camp last year as the starting center but suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp. Whitehair took over, even though he never played center at Kansas State, where he spent most of his time at guard.

The new configuration gave Glennon time to throw most of the first half and cleared several wide paths for runners -- especially electric rookie Tarik Cohen.

As he has from the first day of training camp, Cohen continued to look like a difference-maker who will demand playing time. On the first play from scrimmage, he easily got around the right corner and broke a tackle en route to a 16-yard pickup.

On the Bears' second possession, the 5-foot-6, 181-pound Cohen skirted around left end for 15 yards and added a 9-yard run on the next snap. But Cohen was just getting warm. Late in the first quarter he went for 26 yards, including the final 15 after he spun out of a tackle. In the first quarter alone, the fourth-round pick from North Carolina A&T rushed for 72 yards on 9 carries.

Defensive end Jonathan Bullard continued to build on what has been an improved second season. He crashed into the Cardinals' backfield in the first quarter to drop Pro Bowl running back David Johnson for a 1-yard loss. Late in the first half, Bullard blew up a Chris Johnson run for no gain on third-and-goal from the one-yard line.

Incumbent place-kicker Connor Barth responded to the Bears' signing of challenger Roberto Aguayo last week by nailing all 12 of his FG attempts the following day in practice. Against the Cardinals, Barth got the Bears on the board first with his 42-yard field goal.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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