By Chris Emma-
CHICAGO (CBS) — Sentiments from a preseason game differ when described by an NFL rookie and veteran.
A fourth-quarter comeback propelled the Bears to a 20-19 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field on Thursday night. Undrafted rookie Senorise Perry punched in the game-winning touchdown with 50 seconds remaining on the clock.
The preseason heroics brought Perry a moment he’ll never forget, even if it was just an exhibition.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” Perry said in the locker room, a big smile still on his face. “It just still hasn’t hit me yet.”
As for Martellus Bennett, who’s seen dozens of preseason games, the Bears’ successes on Thursday didn’t mean nearly as much.
“All women could look good for an hour,” Bennett said. “But can they look good all night?”
No victory should be taken for granted, even if it’s still August. The Bears now have two wins under their belt, showing cohesiveness in pulling out wins. Yet there were far too many flaws along the way, from a poor rushing attack to an unimpressive defensive effort to another miserable special teams performance.
Time is still on the Bears’ side, and the game film will offer coach Marc Trestman the chance to evaluate what’s next for his football team.
“They overcame a lot of adversity throughout the game,” Trestman said. “The penalties, the turnovers, a lot of bad things happened to the Bears tonight, and they were able to play and overcome it. That was this game.”
When the Bears next take to Soldier Field, the game will count. It will be their season opener with the Buffalo Bills, set for Sept. 7. Between now and then, Chicago must make many improvements.
There’s no doubt in the Bears’ minds that their mistakes will be corrected, and they’ll be ready when the games matter.
“We’re a humbled group,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “We’re working real hard right now. We’ll keep taking steps in the right direction. You’re never going to know (in the preseason). It’s good to get tested against an opponent, but you’re never really going to know until Week 1.”
Backup RB race still close
Through quiet, steady work, Bears general manager Phil Emery has filled depth at the running back position. Now, the battle to stick on the 53-man roster is growing more intriguing by the day.
There’s no disputing that Matt Forte is the Bears’ starter, and rookie Ka’Deem Carey will earn a roster spot. But beyond that, it’s a wide open race.
Perry, playing in is second preseason game, was the hero with his game-winning score in the final minute. However, veteran free-agent addition Shaun Draughn showed he can play, too, reeling off three separate runs of 11 yards. He’s still far from satisfied.
“Not at all,” Draughn said. “We’re still working. We still have two preseason games. Anything can happen.”
Draughn has played three NFL seasons, most recently with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. However, he has yet to receive a real chance, garnering zero carries in 2011 and four last season. The 26-year-old Draughn hopes to make Chicago a home. First comes the preparation this preseason.
“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, understand my playbook and know where to be,” Draughn said. “It’s not my job to lose, because I don’t have it. There’s nothing to lose.”
Such is also the case for Perry, added to the Bears’ roster shortly after the NFL Draft. The former standout at Louisville is stating his case to stick in Chicago. His confidence is very high after the victory.
“(The performance) builds it up a lot,” Perry said. “But I still have room to improve. To get the touchdown and get the win, it’s a great feeling.”
One notable absence from the Bears’ backfield rotation Thursday was Jordan Lynch, the former Northern Illinois standout quarterback who has converted to running back. He saw action in special teams but appears out of the mix for a spot with the offense.
The Bears’ running game struggled as a whole, registering 79 yards on 26 carries, but there were signs of optimism from the second and third units.
“We’re working hard every day,” Trestman said. “We’re playing against a very good (defensive line) during practice, but we haven’t shown that productivity (in games). We hope it’s not an indication.”
The reps will be handed out with intention to identify which running backs deserve to stay and miss the cut. The game tape from Thursday has plenty to offer for Emery.
Fuller, Miller depart early
Before the Bears could even get settled in Thursday, two of the stars from last week’s preseason contest were lost.
Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller suffered an ankle injury on the opening kickoff and didn’t return to action. Shortly after, tight end Zach Miller — who posted two touchdowns against Philadelphia last Friday — was carted to the locker room with a foot injury.
The X-rays on Fuller came back negative. As for Miller, he left the locker room with his left foot in a walking boot.
“We’ll know a lot more (Friday),” Trestman said. “They’re being checked out (after the game), and we’ll see where they are (on Friday).”
The injury to Miller is especially concerning given his past. He hasn’t played since 2011 and appeared in only four games that season, coincidentally with the Bears’ opponent, Jaguars. Many of Miller’s teammates described the injury as “devastating,” including former Jaguars and current Bears teammate Jordan Palmer.
“He was having the kind of camp you dream of,” Palmer said of Miller.
Willie Young, Chris Conte, Jordan Mills, Dante Rosario, Chris Williams, Craig Steltz, Isaiah Frey and Brian de la Puente all sat out for the Bears with injuries, some serious and others more precautionary. Young’s absence was a new development, as he’d been practicing. He simply had a knee bruise, Trestman said.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.