Monday Morning Quarterback: Preseason Game 4

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Here’s the last Monday Morning Quarterback that won’t be published on a Monday — or a Tuesday, following a Monday night game during the regular season — and I couldn’t be happier. Sure, watching Bears preseason games is more fun to me than bad baseball from two non-playoff teams in August or September, but enough is enough after a while. Game 4 of the preseason is where teams just need to get in, get out, and get on with the regular season.

I had a hunch that Lovie Smith would have sidelined Jay Cutler for the entire game against the Browns on Thursday. Cutler had already proven everything he needed to in the previous two games and there was nothing left to prove, especially at home against a bad team. I guess Lovie felt the need to at least get Cutler one more series of game action so as not to get rusty for the Packers game Sept. 13. So, instead of keeping him on the bench, Ron Turner did the next best thing to avoid injury and that was have Cutler hand the ball off six times to Kevin Jones and then let Robbie Gould drill a 43-yard field goal to cap off Cutler’s only drive of action.

While Cutler managed to escape without a needless injury, the same could not be said about Jones, who injured his ankle at the end of a run toward the sideline. Jones felt the need to leap in the air — for no apparent reason — and was pushed while airborne. He landed on his left ankle and appeared to roll it awkwardly. The Bears need a capable backup running back to ease the workload of Matt Forte, and Garrett Wolfe is not that back. Hopefully, Jones’ injury is not too serious, but he’s going to probably miss some time. I’d be surprised if he returned any quicker than a few weeks.

It was good to see Danieal Manning and Zack Bowman back in action, and Bowman picked up right where he left off in training camp by intercepting Cleveland’s Brett Ratliff on the first play from scrimmage. I’ll reserve judgment on Bowman until after he plays more than one regular season game — the number to which he was limited in his rookie year — but in the meantime, he does look like a playmaker with a nose for the football.

For those looking for some kind of jostling between Rashied Davis, Devin Aromashodu, and Brandon Rideau for two of what appears to be only three roster spots available to them, you were sorely disappointed. The trio caught just one pass all night and that was an 18-yard reception by Rideau, who caught a pass and shed a tackler while sprinting for the end zone. This night was instead reserved for rookie receivers Johnny Knox and Juaquin Iglesias. Knox had a couple good kickoff returns, including one for 50 yards, as well as catching 2 passes for 62 yards while showing the “elite speed” that everybody has been raving about. Iglesias hauled in 5 passes for 72 yards. The two showed why if they don’t make the Bears’ cuts, they’ll be headed to another team and not the Bears’ practice squad.

Cornerback Rod Hood had an impressive first outing on only a few days of practice with the team and will make it difficult for Trumaine McBride to make the roster. Hood led the team with 7 tackles and also broke up a pass on third down that you’d expect veterans to do.

Marcus Harrison also flashed signs that he’s ready to be a regular contributor this season. On a goal line play, he broke through the line of scrimmage, pursued the ball carrier laterally down the line of scrimmage and brought him down for a loss. He also picked up a sack and showed a good motor all night.

In maybe his last game as a Bear — he could be the victim of a numbers game — tight end Michael Gaines caught two passes for 34 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass. Gaines was brought in this offseason for his blocking, but was passed on the depth chart by Kellen Davis.

The Bears now have 9 days to wait before they take the field for real against the Packers in prime time. They may have began the preseason slowly on the road against the Bills, but have looked impressive since then. I think this team is ready to compete at a high level and I’m anxious to see what a full week of game planning will do. They’ll have to be playing their best football right off the bat as Green Bay has looked even more impressive in the preseason and will have home field advantage where it’ll be a hostile environment for the Bears. If the Bears do what they’ve done the past few games — pressure the quarterback into hurried throws and move the ball consistently on offense — they should be just fine.

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