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Sunday, August 28, 2011
Five things we learned: Bears-Titans

By Jeff Dickerson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Here are five things we learned following the Tennessee Titans' 14-13 victory over the Chicago Bears:

1. The offensive line keeps improving: Don't assume every issue on the offensive line has been solved after two respectable performances in the span of less than a week. However, even to the untrained eye, it's easy to spot the improvement since the preseason opener against Buffalo. Both the pass protection (Jay Cutler sacked zero times) and run blocking (Matt Forte rushed for 74 yards) were solid in Nashville, an encouraging sign with the regular-season opener only a few weeks away. Maybe the most memorable offensive line moment of the night came when right guard Lance Louis pulled around the left side and led a Forte run to the outside. Louis moved so well it looked like he almost outran Forte on the play. If the line can run block well all year, and just give Cutler average time to throw the ball, the Bears offense could be much better than it was in 2010.

Earl Bennett
Bears receiver Earl Bennett caught six passes for 89 yards on Saturday against the Titans.
2. Earl Bennett is the Bears’ top receiver: This really shouldn't come as surprise. If the Bears need a big reception, the ball is going to Bennett. He runs the best routes, has the best hands and is the most quarterback-friendly wideout on the roster. Bennett doesn't fool Cutler. They've known each other since college, and Bennett has just gotten better over the years. Right now, Bennett is entering the final year of his contract. Understandably, Forte's quest for an extension has received all the attention, but if Bennett produces as expected in the regular season, he needs to be next up on the Bears’ new contract list.

3. Where was Chester Taylor?: Marion Barber left the game in the first half with a calf injury and Chester Taylor still didn't see the field? Really? What are Bears fans supposed to think about Taylor's status on the roster when Robert Hughes carries the ball two times against the Titans. Give Kahlil Bell credit, he made the most of his opportunites, but with Barber banged up, hanging on to Taylor might not be a bad idea. But given the tone of Taylor's postgame remarks, he seems fed up with the situation here in Chicago. If Taylor is buried that deep on the depth chart and the Bears don't want him, they might as well cut him now.

4. Roy Williams has work to do: Cutler really didn't give Williams a ringing endorsement following the game. But with the starters not expected to play much in the preseason finale Thursday versus the Cleveland Browns, that was probably the most we'll see of Williams until the regular season begins. Williams has mentioned the Sept. 11 date against the Atlanta Falcons numerous times since signing with the Bears, so he probably deserves a shot to start the year. However, if the "fireworks" don't go off in a few weeks, the Bears could easily pull the trigger and make a switch. The quarterback/wide receiver chemistry is important, and so far, it doesn't look like Cutler and Williams are close to making beautiful music together on the football field.

5. Amobi Okoye is generating pressure: He might be the only guy reaching the quarterback, but it's been a solid preseason for Okoye at the three technique defensive tackle spot. Granted, Okoye played much of the game Saturday night opposite second stringers, but he made an impact with a sack and two tackles for a loss. Defensive tackle is shaping up to be a strength with Okoye, Henry Melton and the vastly underrated Matt Toeaina. When the Bears get Anthony Adams back from a calf injury and if rookie Stephen Paea can step up and contribute, the push from the interior of the defensive line is going to make life on the ends much easier.