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Chicago Bears Gives Fans Reason to Be Excited About 2012 Season

We're halfway through the preseason, and it looks like things are starting to come into place for the Chicago Bears. Chicago has split their first two games of the preseason, losing to the Denver Broncos and beating the Washington Redskins, and has shown improvement from game one to game two.

Grant it, most of the starters didn't play in the preseason opener versus the Broncos, but adding key players line quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte, and defensive end Julius Peppers to the mix gives Bears fans a more vivid picture of how things will be once Week 1 of the regular season rolls around.

There wasn't much to cheer about in the 31-3 loss to Denver. However, the 33-31 victory over the Redskins was something to take notice of .

On the first play from scrimmage against Washington, Cutler connected with wide receiver Brandon Marshall for a 41-yard completion. Marshall, a former teammate of Cutler in Denver, finished the game with two receptions for 61 yards.

Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery continued to impress Bears coaches and fans with three receptions of his own for 62 yards.

Chicago's new acquisition in the backfield, Michael Bush, scored two touchdowns in the red zone during the first quarter. Bush just may be the goal line threat the Bears have been looking for over the past few seasons.

Defensively, Chicago was still without veteran middle linebacker Brian Urlacher due to his recuperation from arthroscopic knee surgery, but that didn't matter with the first-string defense.

Led by defensive end Israel Idonije's 2.5 sacks, the Bears' defense dominated the Redskins' starting offense, which included a fumble by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, that was recovered by Peppers.

Even the start of the second half sent electricity through the crowd at Soldier Field. Running back Lorenzo Booker opened the third quarter with a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, extending the Bears' lead to 27-10.

The contribution from the special teams didn't stop there. Kicker Robbie Gould gave Chicago the lead, and the victory, late in the fourth quarter with a 57-yard field goal with :31 remaining on the clock.

Yes, there are a lot of reasons to be excited entering this regular season. We must also remember that there are still a lot of things that still need improvement, and a lot of things that are still left unanswered.

Chicago's offensive line still could be costly when it comes to pass protection. There is still uncertainty of who will protect Cutler's blindside at the left tackle position.

Both J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams are still battling for the starting LT spot, and with two preseason games remaining, offensive coordinator Mike Tice has a tough decision ahead of him.

Other concerns that the Bears have are on the defensive side of the ball. The most obvious is the status of Urlacher. The 13-year veteran injured his left knee in the 2011 regular season finale versus the Minnesota Vikings, and hasn't participated in activities with the team this offseason.

Urlacher says that he is confident that he will be ready to play in Week 1 versus the Indianapolis Colts, even after having his knee scoped recently.

This leaves the middle linebacking duties to Nick Roach if by some chance Urlacher isn't able to play by September 9th. Roach shouldn't have a problem filling in. In 2009, the six-year veteran stepped in for an injured Urlacher and showed that he could produce.

Finally, the situation at both safety positions continue to haunt the Bears. Ever since Lovie Smith became head coach for Chicago, safety has be the most inconsistent position on defense. Major Wright and Chris Conte are both the starters, and both showed promise last season.

However, that didn't stop Chicago from drafting Oregon State safety Brandon Hardin, who was carted off of the field in the win over the Redskins.

All in all, the Bears are in great position to improve on their 8-8 record from last season. In order to do that, Chicago needs to build on the momentum that they have built this preseason, and players at key positions need to step up.

Clyde A. Speller

Follow me on Twitter @ClydeASpeller

1 comment:

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