For openers, QB corps quite impressive
Who looked good at quarterback for the Bears?
In Friday night's preseason opener against the Eagles at Soldier Field, quarterback Jay Cutler and the starters didn't seem to miss No. 1 tight end Martellus Bennett, whose suspension "for an undetermined length of time" concluded its fifth day.
The Bears' first-team offense moved the ball effectively, and so did the second and third teams. Even rookie David Fales, who's No. 4 on the depth chart and started the fourth quarter, completed a 41-yard bomb to Josh Bellamy on his first play from scrimmage.
"I thought all the quarterbacks had some adversity," said Bears coach Marc Trestman, "and they were all able to come back from it."
The Bears' first-team defense picked off 2 of 9 passes by Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who led the NFL with a 119.2 passer rating last season, when he threw just 2 interceptions among 317 passes.
After that, the Eagles' hurry-up offense got untracked and went ahead 28-17, but the Bears prevailed 34-28.
In addition to Bennett, the offense was missing two additional starters on the right side of the line, tackle Jordan Mills and guard Kyle Long. But the Bears and Cutler didn't hesitate to throw the ball.
"We were confident with who we had," said Cutler, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 83 yards on the second possession to take a 7-0 lead. "With Kyle out, we've been rotating a lot of guys, and I have a comfort level with a lot of them."
Cutler was especially sharp on third downs. He completed a 13-yard pass to Brandon Marshall on third-and-11, a 23-yard pass to tight end Dante Rosario on third-and-10 and then a 10-yard TD toss to tight end Zach Miller on third-and-7.
"We had backed-up plays we were able to convert on," said Cutler, who finished with a 112.7 passer rating.
Rosario, who has been getting first-team reps with Bennett out of the picture, had 2 catches for 28 yards on the TD drive. Miller caught 6 passes for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half.
Miller's first TD came on a difficult catch in traffic of a Cutler pass that was thrown behind the receiver. His second TD grab came on a toss over the middle from Jordan Palmer, who replaced Cutler late in the first quarter.
Rosario was a strong contributor on special teams for the Bears last season but had just 1 reception. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Miller is the best pass catcher of the contenders. He had 33 receptions for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010 but has since been plagued by knee, shoulder and foot injuries, and he has played in just four games in the previous three years.
Safety Ryan Mundy, who has just 2 interceptions in his 6 previous NFL seasons, gave the Bears great field position with his interception and 11-yard return to the Eagles' 24-yard line. But Robbie Gould's 41-yard FG attempt was blocked. Cornerback Sherrick McManis got the Bears' second interception of Foles, this one just outside the red zone.
After most of the starters departed, the battle for the Bears' No. 2 quarterback job continued. Palmer looked harried at times and was sacked once and picked off once, but he completed 8 of 11 passes, including the TD to Miller, and he finished with a 94.5 passer rating.
Jimmy Clausen, the other contender to be Cutler's backup, started the second half. He led Chris Williams perfectly with a deep ball for a 73-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. But Williams suffered a hamstring injury on the play and did not return.
Late in the third quarter, after he scrambled 16 yards for a first down, Clausen threw a 22-yard TD to Micheal Spurlock who, like Williams is in contention for wide receiver and kick-return jobs. Clausen completed 7 of 13 passes for 150 yards, including the 2 TDs, for a 134.6 passer rating.
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