Chicago Bears: Top 5 Performers from Last Night's Preseason Opener vs. Denver

Gabe Salgado@@GabeSalgado82Correspondent IIIAugust 10, 2012

Chicago Bears: Top 5 Performers from Last Night's Preseason Opener vs. Denver

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    Last night the Chicago Bears opened their 2012 preseason schedule with a loss to the Denver Broncos by a final score of 31-3. 

    The Bears looked brutal out there on the field. The offense was stale as the Bears only gained a total of 158 yards.

    The offensive line couldn't clear a path for the running game, and at times they struggled with pass protection. The passing game was inconsistent. The Bears only completed 16 of 22 passes for 96 yards as a team. As for pass protection, Bears quarterbacks were sacked a total of six times.

    The running game struggled even more as Bears only rushed for a total of 36 yards, averaging only 1.7 yards per carry between six ball carriers. The defense was even worse...

    Rod Marinelli's group gave up 338 total yards to the Bronco offense. They only forced one turnover which was an interception by Major Wright. They also had quite a bit of trouble getting to the quarterback, but they did manage to get three sacks.

    The Bears' return game was non-existent as they only gained a combined 60 yards on both kick returns and punt returns. Overall, this team just flat out struggled. Perhaps things could have been different if guys like Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher, and Julius Peppers had played tonight. 

    I will say on the Bears' behalf that they are working in a new offense and that seems to be a work in progress. Plus they also wanted to get a good look at the younger players on defense. Hopefully last night's loss was just a learning curve and not a sign of things to come.

    But despite the 28-point defeat, I did manage to find some positives from last night's game. Let's take a took at who stood out for the Bears on Thursday night.

Top Performer No. 5: Shea McClellin

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    After taking a beating from both the media and the Bears' offensive line in practice, Shea McClellin managed to break out of his shell a little bit last night.

    He had three solo tackles and managed to sack former Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie early in the game. He also showcased his speed, his quickness, and agility.

    He even managed to shed a few blocks and fight off double-teams. This was the type of game he needed to have in order to get the monkey off of his back.

    Next week he will have another opportunity to prove his critics wrong.

Top Performer(s) No. 4: Matt Blanchard and Josh McCown

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    With Jay Cutler not playing tonight someone had to take up the slack at quarterback. Jason Campbell started but was somewhat ineffective. 

    Josh McCown and Matt Blanchard accounted for more than half of the teams passing yards last night. Together they went a combined 12-17 for 109 yards. The only blemish was a Matt Blanchard interception.

    Speaking of Blanchard, he completed his first four passes in a row. It was because of Blanchard's quick passing that the Bears were finally able to get points on the board in the fourth quarter.

    McCown also provided a spark when he was in the game. But every time the Bears were on the verge of making something big happen, he would get sacked. But regardless, the performances of these two players may have created a battle for the third-string quarterback position.

Top Performer No. 3: Robbie Gould

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    I gotta give the Bears' kicker some love here. He scored the Bears' only points of the game last night. It took a while for the Bears' offense to get him in field-goal position. But thanks to good old No. 9, the Bears avoided a shutout.

Top Performer No. 2: Alshon Jeffery

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    Last night was a good opportunity for the second round draft pick to make some plays. To the delight of Bears fans, he did not disappoint. 

    Alshon Jeffery led all Bears receivers with four catches for 35 yards. He averaged 8.8 yards per catch and all of his receptions helped lead the Bears' offense to first downs.

    It would have been nice to see him snag a couple touchdowns, but considering this is just the preseason opener, Jeffery is well on his way to NFL stardom. 

Top Performer No.1: J.T. Thomas

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    Despite the poor performance by the Bears' defense, J.T. Thomas played his heart out and left it on the field last night.

    He led the team with seven total tackles, and threw his body all over the field while trying to make plays. Thomas also had to hold it down for the Bears linebackers.

    Brian Urlacher did not start because of his sore knee, and Dom DeCicco got injured in the second quarter, and Lance Briggs only managed to get one lousy tackle.

    So it was good to see Thomas go out there and be a leader on defense last night.