QBs in spotlight during Bears-Raiders game
CHICAGO – The Bears and Raiders might both be using quarterbacks they didn’t plan to in their preseason game.
Injuries to two Oakland quarterbacks could result in playing time Saturday for the recently acquired Colt Brennan. Chicago backup Caleb Hanie’s shoulder sprain might force the Bears into using Matt Gutierrez after only three days of practice with the team.
“We have a couple guys down, but we’re in decent shape,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “We plan on playing our starters a little bit longer this week, getting into our normal routine of the second game of the preseason.”
Anything more than eight plays would be a bit longer for Jay Cutler in Chicago’s new offense. He got into only one series last week against the blitz-happy San Diego Chargers, completing two passes in a drive to a field goal.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz on Wednesday acknowledged he pulled Cutler earlier than planned because the Chargers threw an assortment of blitzes at his new offense. Considering Hanie was injured on a second-half sack, the concern may have been warranted.
“I just wanted to make sure we are further along with what we do before we keep him in there under that kind of circumstance,” Martz said.
Sixth-round draft pick Dan LeFevour figures to get most of the snaps for the Bears, possibly even all of those after Cutler leaves the game.
LeFevour began training camp completely inexperienced in the offense. After going only 2-of-10 for 21 yards against San Diego, then throwing five interceptions in Monday’s practice, LeFevour began making progress.
“Whether the outcome is good or bad, I think I learned something every play,” LeFevour said. “You’ve just got to keep doing that: keep your head up and stay confident and keep learning because your opportunity will come.”
The Bears had only 168 yards passing and 48 yards rushing against San Diego, but offense wasn’t their only problem. They gave up 335 yards in the debut of defensive end Julius Peppers in a Bears uniform.
“We didn’t do what we wanted to,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “We gave up a touchdown on defense and we gave up a long run.
“We’ll get better. We know we have to improve. That’s what preseason is for. We will improve every week.”
Like the Bears, the Raiders struggled offensively in their preseason-opening 17-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys. All their points came from reserves in the game’s final 4:58.
The Raiders’ offense suffered more setbacks this week when Charlie Frye underwent season-ending right wrist surgery and Bruce Gradkowski missed more time with a groin strain. Neither will play Saturday, and Brennan, signed Aug. 7, will be the third QB.
Kyle Boller will back up starter Jason Campbell against the Bears. Boller, signed by the Raiders in June after a season with St. Louis, led the late comeback last week.
“He’s getting a new start and I think he’s making the most of it, certainly, and the way the situations worked out, with Bruce having the groin issue, it’s given him a bigger opportunity,” Raiders coach Tom Cable said.
Cable is particularly concerned with how his offensive line protects his healthy quarterbacks against Peppers, defensive tackle Tommie Harris and the Bears’ pass rush.
“I think with the addition of Peppers, particularly that first group will have to deal with him and Harris and their good linebacking crew,” Cable said. “So the front seven will be a very good test for us early in that football game.”
The Dallas offense ran plays from Oakland’s 16, 13, 9 and 10 without scoring a touchdown. The Raiders forced field goals on three of those possessions thanks largely to the efforts of two young players: ends Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston, who had two sacks each.
“Any time you can start fast, as a young guy it definitely builds your confidence, knowing that you belong,” Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. “Both of those guys have done it in practice, so it just kind of carries over to the game.”
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