Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller (86) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: CXB124
The suspension of Martellus Bennett has opened the door for the rest of the Bears’ tight ends, and it was Zach Miller who stepped through first Friday.
Miller put together some great tape — a highlight reel, really — against the Philadelphia Eagles for his coaches to review.
‘‘Zach, the first time with us, obviously had a heck of a day,’’ quarterback Jay Cutler said.
As expected, Bennett remained suspended against the Eagles. Matthew Mulligan started at tight end, and veteran backup Dante Rosario made two catches in the first half, including one for a 23-yard gain.
But it was Miller, a former college quarterback whose NFL career has been slowed by injuries, who starred. His first touchdown catch was a 10-yard reception from Cutler (9-for-13, 85 yards, 112.7 rating) in the back of the end zone. His second was a leaping 12-yard grab over Eagles linebacker Jason Phillips from Jordan Palmer.
‘‘It was actually the same play, the same play call,’’ Miller said. ‘‘And it was almost the same throw, both from Jay and Jordan. It was a back-shoulder throw, and they put it where they needed to.’’
Allen joins Bears
Defensive end Jared Allen rejoined the Bears after being with his family for the birth of his daughter. He hasn’t practiced in more than a week and didn’t play, but he did some individual work on the field before the game.
‘‘I’m excited to get back with my guys,’’ Allen said in the locker room after the game. ‘‘That’s really what it is, just kind of getting back in the flow. Watching the first unit go, you want to be out there.
‘‘This is why I love coach [Marc Trestman]. I told him tonight, ‘Hey, if you need me to go, I’m ready to go, as many plays as I’ve got.’ He’s like, ‘No, we’ll get you back for next week.’ That, to me, means so much. He wants you to go out and play hard. It makes you want to get back and practice even harder, knowing that an organization has your back and really cares about your well-being.’’
The offense and defense had their moments, but the Bears’ special teams were a dud in the preseason opener.
Robbie Gould had a 41-yard field goal blocked, even though the snap by Chad Rempel and hold by rookie punter Pat O’Donnell appeared clean. Tress Way’s first punt was a medicore 38 yards with no return. And after the Bears’ tied the score at 14, the Eagles’ Josh Huff returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown.
Even the good turned bad. Way’s second punt went 63 yards and was downed by Josh Bellamy at the Eagles’ 8-yard-line. But Bellamy was penalized for an illegal touch — he returned to the field after going out of bounds — and Way’s re-kick went 37 yards with no return.
More injury woes
The injuries to the Bears’ offensive line continued, with reserve Brian de la Puente leaving with an injury to his left knee in the second quarter. He started in place of guard Kyle Long, who missed practice Wednesday with a sore foot.
Kick returner/receiver Chris Williams tweaked a hamstring during his 73-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. He said he doesn’t think it’s serious.
Right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) didn’t play, and Michael Ola started in his place. Ola has worked with the first team during camp because of Long’s absence for a viral infection.
Cornerback Tim Jennings (quadriceps), defensive back Isaiah Frey (hamstring) and offensive lineman Eben Britton (hamstring) sat out.