EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Chicago Bears’ offensive line couldn’t protect Jay Cutler against the New York Giants last season, and there are doubts whether this time will be any better.
Forgotten last year? Well, in another nationally televised game, the Giants registered nine first-half sacks and sent Cutler to the sideline early with a concussion in a 17-3 win that handed the Bears their first loss of the season.
The teams will meet in a preseason game at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday night and the Bears’ line hasn’t shown much improvement so far this year.
How bad has the line been? Well, it gave up nine sacks in a 10-3 win over the Buffalo Bills in the opening weekend of the preseason.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said there was a lot blame to go around for the sacks, which included four by the first team unit of J’Marcus Webb, Chris Williams, Roberto Garza, Lance Louis and Gabe Carimi.
Smith said all the linemen made mistakes, and the quarterbacks held the ball too long. Not having much time together because of the lockout was another issue.
“Again, you get to the first game, you see where you are and you start making adjustments from there, which we’ll have to do,” Smith said. “It’s good to come back and play a good Giants team that we didn’t have a lot of success against last year.”
After playing only one series last week, Cutler will see more action against New York, which lost 20-10 to Carolina in its preseason opener. He isn’t worrying about last year.
“You know, it’s a preseason game so we’ve got to take it for what it is and do our job and hopefully we won’t have a repeat of last year,” Cutler said.
New York had four sacks in the preseason opener, including two by impressive second-year pro Jason Pierre-Paul, who will be taking on a greater role with two-time Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora expected to be sidelined at least a month following arthroscopic surgery this week.
“I didn’t know I was going to get two sacks, but I went out there and played good football,” Pierre-Paul said. “I kept rushing the quarterback and that’s what happened. The expectations are going to be high, I just have to play to my full ability.”
Justin Tuck, who had three sacks against the Bears last year, told everyone to forget about that game.
“Us beating up their quarterback didn’t help us get our job done,” Tuck said. “We didn’t make the playoffs and we didn’t win the Super Bowl, so I really don’t care about last year. I’m focused on what we are going to do this year.
“Obviously, they will have a chip knowing that we killed and embarrassed them as far as O-Line and things like that,” Tuck added. “I know Coach (Mike) Tice is going to bring that up and they are going to come in here ready to play.”
The Giants’ offense is coming off a dismal performance. New York’s lone touchdown against Carolina came on an interception return by linebacker Michael Boley, who has battled a sore back this week.
New York coach Tom Coughlin plans to have his starters play about 25 plays with David Carr following Eli Manning at quarterback. Free agent Ryan Perrilloux will finish up.
Both teams might rest some players.
Lance Briggs has been ruled out by the Bears, and fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher could be held out because he has had some “camp soreness,” Smith said. Return specialist Devin Hester also is a question mark.
Besides Umenyiora, the Giants are not sure whether starting cornerbacks Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas will be available. Webster missed the last two practices while attending the funeral of an uncle. Thomas watched Saturday’s workout because of a sore knee.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)