There was a good deal of excitement about the start of the preseason for the Chicago Bears, but that enthusiasm quickly turned to dread as the team dropped a 22-0 decision to the Denver Broncos.
Fortunately for the Bears, preseason wins and losses don’t matter, and there are a few positives that can be gleaned from the game as the team looks to rebound from the defeat.
Bryce Callahan Rebounds From Rough Start
The first drive of the game was an ugly one for the Bears, as they gave up several long third down conversions and allowed Mark Sanchez and company to march up the field in short order.
The worst play came on the final play, however. In one-on-one coverage, cornerback Bryce Callahan, playing outside corner in place of Tracy Porter, was matched up with Demaryius Thomas, and the Broncos took full advantage. Sanchez lofted a ball over the top, and after a double move Thomas was wide open past Callahan and hauled in a 32-yard touchdown catch to give Denver a 7-0 lead.
Fortunately for the Bears, Callahan didn’t let the setback phase him, and he made a huge play later in the game. On another pass from Sanchez, Callahan read the play, broke off from his coverage and undercut a route over the middle. He ended up tipping the ball right into the waiting hands of linebacker Jerrell Freeman, and the resulting interception gave the Bears their first turnover of the game.
Callahan was a player that we highlighted as one to watch in the game, and he gave fans a bit of optimism after his early stumble. He’s going to be an important player in the slot for the Bears this season, but if a guy like Kyle Fuller goes down, he’s showing that he could potentially fill in as a starting corner as well.
Rookies Shine in First Action
Arguably the best part of any preseason game is seeing the way that a team’s rookies play, and for the Bears on Thursday, they had some pretty impressive games from their newest players.
The first one that immediately jumps to mind is cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, who came into the game with the second team and made two back-to-back plays in coverage. On the first ball, Hall had one-on-one assignment with Bennie Fowler, and he managed to punch a ball out from the receiver’s hands in the end zone to deny a touchdown.
On the very next play, Hall came up big again. With Jordan Taylor running a route this time, Hall once again provided excellent blanket coverage and broke up another pass, forcing the Broncos to settle for a field goal at a point when the game was threatening to spiral out of control for the Bears.
Hall wasn’t the only Bears rookie that stood out, either. Deon Bush played a ton of defensive snaps for the team in a variety of spots on the field, and he provided some really solid coverage in the secondary. First round pick Leonard Floyd also made his presence known, picking up two tackles and using his speed off the edge to throw the Broncos off balance.
Jonathan Bullard also showed why he’s going to see a lot of playing time in Vic Fangio’s system, notching a tackle for a loss and routinely disrupting plays in the backfield.
Deonte Thompson Could Provide Intriguing Change of Pace
Wide receiver depth was one of the biggest issues facing the Bears last season, and although both Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery suited up for the team on Thursday night, there is still reason to suspect that the Bears are going to want to make sure they have plenty of options at the position this season.
Deonte Thompson may not get the number of reps that players like Eddie Royal or Marc Mariani will get this season, but he certainly showed why he could be an effective weapon on Thursday. He showed an ability to make catches over the middle of the field, and he also showed that he could pick up yards after the catch as well, racking up 33 total yards to lead all Bears receivers in that category.
With Royal and Marquess Wilson frequently banged up, Thompson will get an opportunity to strut his stuff for the Bears, and if Thursday is an indication, then he has some serious skill that he can add to the mix.