No Cutler. No Forte. Brandon Marshall for twenty seconds. Peppers on the bench. Urlacher at whatever Lou Malnati's location he's been spending his nights. There was never going to be anything to learn from last night's preseason opener. But I'll take a few moments this morning and reflect.
- First the bad; Major Wright's hamstring. Once against Major came up with a terrific interception around the goal line but shortly thereafter found himself nursing a tight hamstring on the bench. Before we start sounding the "Major can't stay healthy" alarm we should note both Major and Lovie Smith referring to the injury as a "tweak" and saying Wright will not miss any practice time.
- When you watch these games you look for players on the second and third units who seem better than their opposition. Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffery are clearly first-string talents and they showed it last night. McClellin's speed is going to give slower tackles in the league fits and Jeffery's route running was damn impressive for seeing his first professional action. I won't be surprised if both are starting against the Colts in a month.
- The other name I'd add to that group is linebacker J.T. Thomas. Big #97 was all over the field last night - collapsing the run from the outside and batting down passes ten yards off the line of scrimmage. J.T. is an interesting guy. Jemele Hill at ESPN profiled him favorably in February and that profile ran a week prior to his being arrested for having a bit of the Mary Jane on his person. But he may be the next solid player to graduate from the Lovie Redshirt to the defensive rotation.
- The NFL needs to reconsider their policy of allowing organizations to charge full price for these games. Last night, across the league, stadiums were empty for almost the entirety of second halves. To make fans pay major league prices for minor league football seems criminal.
- J'Marcus Webb did not play awful but he played sloppy, including a false start Mike Tice said would not be tolerated. Webb was left in the ball game well beyond the rest of the starters and I wonder if Chris Williams won't be given an opportunity to win the left tackle spot in the lead-up to next weekend's game with the Redskins. My guess? No. I think Tice believes in Webb and last night was tough love.
- I don't think Armando Allen is going to surpass Kahlil Bell anytime soon.
- Same for Kelvin Hayden and Tim Jennings.
- Don't take anything the starting defense did seriously. This group notoriously performs terribly in the summer and turn it on once they start keeping score for real. We know exactly what they're going to be in the regular season - positives and negatives.
Final note: Health is all that matters and last night, barring a change in course on Major Wright, the Bears came out healthy. That. Is. All. That. Matters. This is going to be a very good football team this year but only if their very good players are on the field.
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