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Emma: Bears Take A Moment To Smile, After Strong Preseason Opener

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Chris Emma covers the college sports scene for CBSChicago.com,...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Stroll through the Bears’ locker room following Friday’s 34-28 victory over Philadelphia and find all the smiles.

Satisfaction had set in, not too long after the final whistle. It wasn’t an overjoyed celebration; this was just a preseason contest. But the Bears were pleased with their play.

“It took all 90 guys to win this game,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said after the game. “We had 90 Chicago Bears out there, and we played four quarters. I was really excited about that.”

With Friday’s meeting at Soldier Field, the Bears faced an Eagles team that dismantled their season last December. The goal was to start a new journey positively, working to rebuild the Bears’ identity after a rocky 2013 run.

The showing wasn’t anything to write home about, with so many glaring mistakes. Fortunately, the preseason is the time to learn from them.

Prior to kickoff, the team collectively set its goal: Be fast and physical.

“That comes from the Bears,” said safety Danny McCray. “As the Bears, that’s how we practice every day. We brought that from practice to the field today.”

The preseason provides a platform for growth, where mistakes can be corrected. The film shows what went wrong;  a return trip to training camp allows repetition to make it right.

In their first preseason game, the Bears were told to give their all — play free and deal with the errors later.

“If you make a mistake, do it at 100 miles per hour,” said McCray.

Added rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller: “Those things we got on film, we’ll learn from. But I feel like we’re off to a good start.”

Mistakes were plenty, even in a victory. The Bears had plenty of woes in special teams  — from allowing a blocked field goal and kickoff return for a touchdown to a muffed punt — plus 103 yards in penalties and three turnovers.

“We have a lot of good tape to look at,” Trestman said. “There are a lot of corrections to be made. There was certainly error in our game throughout. I thought the effort was very good, but the tape will help us teach.”

There’s plenty of hunger within the Bears, that following another season that fell short of the playoffs. Year one of Marc Trestman in Chicago saw a top-tier offense and disaster of a defense, a flipped script from the past.

There was no sign of a letdown for a game that doesn’t count. The Bears were eager to retake Soldier Field in their home blues.

“I feel good that we came out energized,” said Lamarr Houston, one of the team’s prize free-agent pickups. “We came out and played physical. Guys were in the game and we were ready to play football. That’s always a good feeling.”

Promise fills a new season for the Bears, where a team looking to rebound from disappointment begins its road to redemption. The victory proved to be a struggle, but it’s still only August.

It’s a step in the right direction toward repairing the team’s identity. But it’s an uphill trek.

“We’re just coming out here, doing things the Bears way,” Fuller said. “Keep the tradition going, play good football and win games.”

For now, the Bears can smile. Then they must get back to work.

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