By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) It’s always a victory when you escape major injury in a preseason game, but the Bears did suffer a somewhat significant blow Thursday night when third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard fractured a knuckle on his left hand.
There have been indications the Bears will keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster and head coach Marc Trestman confirmed that they will likely sign another quarterback with Blanchard out. He didn’t have a timetable for Blanchard, but it appears the second-year quarterback will at least miss the rest of the preseason.
Depending on how the serious the injury is, the Bears could put Blanchard injured reserve, which would guarantee them control of the quarterback next year. If it’s something he can return from during the regular season, they can waive him and then sign him to the practice squad if he clears. Considering he’s an injured, undrafted quarterback from Wisconsin-Whitewater, there’s a pretty good chance he would clear.
With Blanchard out, the Bears were forced to put backup Josh McCown back into the game and they were very conservative from that point on, making sure they didn’t lose another quarterback.
The only other significant injury of the night was to defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, who suffered an ankle injury and did not return. He had x-rays on the ankle, but the results were not announced after the game.
Trestman Accepts Blame For Interception
Jay Cutler’s stat line Thursday night looked pretty familiar. All five of his pass attempts went to Brandon Marshall and four of them were completed. The good news is that one of them was a touchdown. The bad news is that the incompletion was an interception.
The touchdown pass was a perfect back-shoulder throw to Marshall that was pretty much indefensible. The interception, however, was a forced pass 30 yards downfield into double-coverage.
“I didn’t misread, I knew what I was doing,” Cutler said about the interception. “Kind of got clipped and let it go. Those are the ones you want to check down and keep the drive alive.”
Trestman indicated the same, but also took some blame for the pick.
“I told him that’s a play that I want to accept accountability for as well,” Trestman said. “We haven’t run that play a lot. I can do better job of coaching it and put him in a better position to succeed in because he was in a position to (check down) and we just didn’t get it done.”
It was the second straight game in which Cutler only had one incompletion, but that incompletion was for an interception. It was also the second straight game in which new tight end Martellus Bennett didn’t get a single target.
“We had some plays for him early, but we never really got to them,” Cutler said.
Trestman indicated that that was a result of field position. The Bears ended up in the red zone more than they expected as a result of four first half takeaways and the coaching staff did not have that many redzone plays scripted for the first-team offense.
“I don’t know that any of this passing game-wise is any indication of the direction that hopefully we are going,” the head coach said.
Forte Gets It Going
The Bears’ first team offense still had some success though and it was mostly due to Matt Forte. The running back gained 74 yards on just eight carries, good for a 9.3 yards/carry average.
The biggest gain came on a 3rd-and-1, a 58-yard run that was sprung by left tackle Jermon Bushrod. Forte has a bad reputation in short yardage situations, but it was a creative play call that stretched the left side of the field, getting Bushrod far outside to make the key block. Forte cut inside of the left tackle quickly and exploded through the open hole, making one more move at the second level to get loose.
– The first offensive series was a disaster. Bushrod allowed a tackle for loss on the first play from scrimmage and Bennett followed by allowing a sack on the second play. Cutler then held onto the ball too long on the third play and was sacked again.
“Certainly we are not pleased with the start in the first quarter, three and out,” Trestman said.
– Rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic had the hit of the night, leveling Chargers receiver Mike Willie right after a catch. It may have been a violation of the league’s new crown of the helmet rule, however, and might result in a fine. The rule is hardly black and white though so it will be interesting to see what the NFL does.
– Running back Michael Ford had a 100-yard kick return, but only averaged 1.9 yards per carry on 15 chances. Third-stringer Armando Allen is currently out with a hamstring injury, but is a four-phase special teamer, giving him a good chance to hold off Ford.
– Josh Lenz fumbled a punt return, hurting his chances to catch on with the practice squad.
– It probably went mostly unnoticed, but rookie defensive end Cornelius Washington showed ridiculous speed on Ford’s 100-yard return. Chargers cornerback Marcus Cromartie used his speed to eventually run Ford down at the four-yard line, but Washington was actually gaining speed on Cromartie trailing from behind.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.