Wideout debate heats up in Chicago

The Bears thought that the competition the receivers corp went through in  the off season went well but now, two game into the preseason, and the Bears receiving corp is anything but solid.  While it is a given that Brandon Marshall is the #1 receiver, everything gets iffy after that.  Receiver Earl Bennett suffered his second concussion August 2nd, just eight months after his last severe concussion. That injury has opened up the competition for the 2nd thru 6th receivers.,

Rookie receiver Marquess Wilson has impressed the coaches enough to keep him on the roster even though he brings little else to the Special Teams squad where most rookies make or break their career. Veteran Eric Weems can also make an impact on Special Teams while free agent receiver Devin Aromashodu  and QB Jay Cutler had a good relationship when Aromashodu last played with the Bears although he is still trying to figure out the new Bears offense.

The Bears face the Oakland Raiders for their third preseason game  August 28th.  Tickets are still available.

Bears Dominate Stafford, Lions, 37-13

Charles Tillman and Major Wright returned interceptions for touchdowns early in the third quarter, and Chicago picked off Stafford four times to beat Detroit 37-13 in a heated game on Sunday.

The four interceptions by Stafford matched his season total entering the game and helped knock the Lions (6-3) into a second-place tie with the Bears in the NFC North. Stafford was also involved in a skirmish that led to an ejection of Chicago’s D.J. Moore early in the fourth quarter.

By then, the Bears (6-3) had locked up their fourth straight win thanks to a dominant defense and another punt return for a touchdown by Devin Hester, who ran one back 82 yards. That extended his NFL record to 12.

Julius Peppers and Tim Jennings forced turnovers on Detroit’s first two possessions, leading to a touchdown and field goal by Chicago. Wright and Tillman returned interceptions for touchdowns on the Lions’ first two possessions of the second half to put game out of reach.

In between turnover binges, Hester caused his usual havoc before leaving with an undisclosed illness.

For a guy who was listed as questionable with a sprained left ankle, Hester sure looked good at least while he was in the game. He had already set up a field goal by Robbie Gould in the opening seconds of the second quarter with a 29-yard punt return before his long TD return along the left sideline, giving the Bears (6-3) a 20-0 lead.

The idea that the Bears would be tied with the Lions seemed far-fetched after their 24-13 Monday night loss at Ford Field last month, but the teams have gone in different directions since.

Detroit has dropped three of four after winning its first five, and this one was brutal — particularly for Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

Johnson had 81 yards on seven catches with Tillman locking him down.

Stafford completed 33 of 63 passes for 329 yards, and any shot the Lions had at a comeback ended when Wright and Tillman picked him off early in the third.

Wright returned his interception 24 yards and Tillman ran his back 44 yards for TDs that made it 34-6, sending the Lions to their first road loss after they won their first four away from Ford Field.

Things really got chippy early in the fourth quarter after Stafford threw his third interception. Jennings picked him off and got shoved hard out of bounds by Nate Burleson. While that unfolded, Stafford grabbed D.J. Moore by the helmet and threw him to the ground, setting off a confrontation that led to Moore’s ejection.

There was also some tension earlier in the game.

Jay Cutler had his helmet ripped off by Ndamukong Suh after a run, and he got slammed to the ground by Nick Fairley on a late hit in the third quarter.

And a few plays before Jennings’ interception, Chicago’s Lance Briggs had a hard hit on Johnson.

Those incidents aside, there was little drama in this one.

The Bears pulled out an easy win even though Matt Forte and Cutler were rather quiet.

Forte scored the game’s first touchdown on a 6-yard run but finished with 64 yards — 40 of them on one run.

Cutler was consistently under pressure while throwing for just 123 yards, but for one game, anyway, it didn’t matter.

Hester Has 2 Long TDs as Bears Beat Vikings 39-10

So it was hardly shocking that a blowout developed.

That the Bears delivered the beating was a bit of a surprise.

The Bears got two big touchdowns from Devin Hester, stopped Adrian Peterson and held their ground against Jared Allen in a 39-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.

Hester set the tone with a 48-yard touchdown catch and scored on a career-best 98-yard kickoff return before leaving with a chest injury — and he had a lot of help in the win.

“Hopefully, that’s who were are, the team that you saw tonight,” coach Lovie Smith said.

Jay Cutler threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Julius Peppers had two sacks and the Bears (3-3) held Peterson to 39 yards rushing.

Smith didn’t think the injuries to Hester and tight end Kellen Davis (elbow) were serious, but he’s made similar statements in the past about players who wound up missing big chunks of time. Hester did not make himself available for comment.

His 48-yard TD pass from Cutler on Chicago’s first possession got the Bears started quickly as they grabbed a 26-3 halftime lead. Hester’s kickoff return early in the third quarter erased any chance the Vikings (1-5) had at a comeback.

“You feel like you’re getting ready to come and that kickoff return was a big momentum turn,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.

It’s no secret that teams are inviting danger by kicking to Hester, and Minnesota paid a big price right after Peterson scored on a 4-yard run.

Hester took the kickoff, turned to his right and was touched maybe once on his way to the end zone, making it 33-10. It was his first kickoff return for a touchdown since Nov. 25, 2007, against Denver.

“We’re all kind of witnessing history every time he touches it,” Smith said.

Hester set a record with his 11th punt return for a touchdown against Carolina on Oct. 2. On Sunday, the good feelings gave way to concern when the announcement came early in the fourth quarter that he was finished for the game.

Along with the big return, Hester had five catches for 91 yards.

Cutler, meanwhile, had all the time he needed and — for one game, anyway — avoided a big beating. Never mind that league sacks leader Jared Allen was lining up for the Vikings, the Bears’ maligned blockers held their ground.

That allowed Cutler to complete 21 of 31 passes while being sacked just once.

The defense did its job, too.

A surprise starter after sitting out practice this week with a sprained left knee, Peppers got his two sacks and stayed in until the closing minutes even though the knee was bothering him.

“Did I want to stay in? I mean, I don’t know,” Peppers said. “I wanted to play, if that’s what you’re asking. I wanted to play, but the smart thing to do is get everybody out of the game and not risk an injury in a blowout.”

Donovan McNabb threw for 177 yards and completed 19 of 24 passes. He was sacked five times before being lifted for a debuting Christian Ponder, but it was a brutal night for Peterson aside from that scoring run.

He simply couldn’t get anything going against a defense that had been giving up plays at an alarming rate, and it didn’t help that the Vikings lost center John Sullivan (concussion) and right tackle Phil Loadholt (bruised knee) to injuries in the third quarter.

Even so, the Bears dominated from the start. Now, after dropping three of four, they can breathe a little easier.

They still trail unbeaten Green Bay by three games and Detroit by two with losses to both teams, but they have to feel a little better about themselves as they get ready to play Tampa Bay in London.

“That was awesome,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “We ran the ball, protected our quarterback, we made plays in the kicking game as usual, good team win.”

Notes: Ponder was 9 of 17 for 99 yards. … Frazier said he didn’t think Loadholt was seriously injured, but had no more information on Sullivan and S Jamarca Sanford (concussion). … Peppers has 20 multi-sack games.