Smith unfazed by lack of sacks
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org August 27, 2011 11:50PM
Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell (32) is tripped up by Tennessee Titans cornerback LeQuan Lewis (49) in the third quarter of an NFL football preseason game Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:27AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bears coach Lovie Smith bemoaned his team’s failure to get takeaways in a 14-13 loss Saturday to the Tennessee Titans, but he said he’s not worried about the pass rush.
The Bears didn’t have a takeaway against the Titans and have one in three preseason games. The first-team defensive line didn’t have a sack and has none in the preseason.
‘‘We’re pretty vanilla right now [on the defensive line],’’ Smith said. ‘‘We’ll rush the passer well during the course of the year. I feel pretty confident about that.’’
Defensive end Israel Idonije said he is happy about the progress the defense has made in the preseason and isn’t about to panic about the lack of sacks.
‘‘It’s preseason,’’ he said. ‘‘You never get too high on the good things and stay focused on things that are a little out of sync. This is part of our training camp and preparation for when things get real.’’
Running back Chester Taylor, who had rushed for 10 yards on six carries in the first two preseason games, didn’t play against the Titans, even though Marion Barber suffered a calf injury in the first quarter. Smith, though, said that wasn’t an indication that Taylor doesn’t figure in the Bears’ plans.
‘‘That meant that we wanted to take a look at someone else — in particular, Kahlil Bell,’’ Smith said. ‘‘Kahlil hadn’t gotten an opportunity to play that much. We wanted to get a good look at him, and we were able to. And he did a good job.’’
Bell rushed for 48 yards on 11 carries. Robert Hughes, a rookie from Hubbard and Notre Dame who didn’t play Monday against the New York Giants, had two carries for zero yards.
Like old times
The Jay Cutler-to-Earl Bennett connection, which started when they were teammates at Vanderbilt, was a big hit again in Nashville. Bennett caught six passes for 89 yards against the Titans.
‘‘I’ve known Earl for a long time,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘Earl hasn’t changed one iota since his freshman year at Vandy, and he probably never will. I just feel comfortable with him out there. He does what he’s supposed to do. He’s just a football player, and we need more of him in the locker room.’’
‘A bad throw’
Smith didn’t even have to wait to see the film to assess blame for Caleb Hanie’s interception that Titans rookie Tommie Campbell returned 90 yards for a touchdown.
‘‘Bad throw,’’ he said. ‘‘Whether the receiver’s in the wrong or whatever, we can’t do that. I don’t know exactly who was at fault, but you can’t throw the ball directly to [Campbell].’’
Wide receiver Roy Williams, who entered the game without a reception this preseason, caught a 17-yard pass from Cutler on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage. Cutler tried to go right back to Williams on the next play, but the pass was intercepted by Titans safety Michael Griffin. Williams added a 16-yard catch in the second quarter.
‘‘He’s just putting the ball where it needs to be,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Right out of the gate, the first throw was right on the money. The second one, that’s my fault. I still have to catch that one, but I felt there should have been a flag somewhere in there.’’