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Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton suffers concussion in first quarter

Panthers rookie running back KenjBarner fumbles after being hit by Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins second quarter Friday. The Bears

Panthers rookie running back Kenjon Barner fumbles after being hit by Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins in the second quarter Friday. The Bears recovered the ball. | Bob Leverone/AP

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Updated: August 11, 2013 6:09PM



CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Bears had a chance to show off their depth at defensive tackle Friday, but it was by necessity. Pro Bowler Henry Melton suffered a concussion early in the first ­quarter and didn’t return.

Nate Collins replaced Melton and had two tackles for loss — dropping starting running back DeAngelo Williams and backup Tauren Poole for one-yard losses. But Melton, who’s playing with the franchise tag and making $8.45 million this season, would be difficult to replace on a long-term basis.

The Bears also lost long snapper Patrick Mannelly, who suffered a rib injury when he was blocked hard on a punt return in the first quarter and did not return. James Anderson handled long-snapping duties in his place.

Hester cameo

Devin Hester came into camp with something to prove after a difficult season in 2012, but he didn’t get many opportunities in the first half. Hester was deep on a punt return only once and let the ball go into the end zone for a touchback. He was so eager to get a return that he took a kickoff with his back foot just about out of the end zone — and returned it 23 yards to the 14-yard line.

Undrafted rookie Josh Lenz (10-yard return) and veteran Eric Weems (14-yard return) also returned punts for the Bears.

The B team

Backup quarterback Josh McCown entered early in the second quarter with an offensive line consisting of rookie Jordan Mills at right tackle, rookie Kyle Long at right guard, Matt Slauson at center, James Brown at left guard and Eben Britton at left tackle.

Edwin Williams replaced Slauson at center later in the second quarter.

A matter of discipline

The Bears had their flaws against the Panthers, but they avoided a spate of penalties that often comes with new coaching regimes. The Bears were called for two penalties in the first half — a pass-interference call on Anderson and a holding call on Brown that was declined.

In Lovie Smith’s first preseason game in 2004, the Bears were called for 20 penalties, 13 in the first half and 10 on the offensive line.

Marshall, Peppers out

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Julius Peppers, both of whom were held out by coach’s decision, were among nine players who did not play in the opener.

The others were wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion), defensive end Corey Wootton (tight calf), defensive end Jamaal Anderson (knee), tight end Kyle Adams (tight hamstring), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf) and cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring).

Bits & pieces

Jay Cutler was sacked once by Charles Johnson when he stepped up to avoid Johnson’s pressure against right tackle J’Marcus Webb.

† Tight end Fendi Onobun dropped a touchdown pass from McCown.

† On the next play, Armando Allen fumbled when he tried to cut upfield on third-and-eight from the 13, and the Panthers recovered.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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