He received his "Welcome-to-the-NFL, son" four plays into his pro career, a Colts sandwich that left Cade McNown picking himself up 9 yards behind the line of scrimmage and surely knowing what they meant when they warned him about the speed of pro football.
But the Bears' rookie quarterback was neither shaken nor intimidated. "Yeah, some guy welcomed me to the NFL," McNown acknowledged. "But I reminded him that it was the preseason and he wasn't allowed to welcome me yet."
For posterity, the first swagger officially appeared seven plays later.
It followed McNown's second completion of a penalty-aided drive that would culminate in a game-tying 30-yard field goal by Todd Sauerbrun five seconds into the fourth quarter of the Bears' eventual 9-6 exhibition victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
That was it for McNown before a Soldier Field crowd of 37,721 Saturday night. Three series, 11 plays, 2 for 6 for 24 yards that spanned a little more than the third quarter. No touchdowns. No interceptions. And probably only a marginal feel for what the NFL is really like.
But Dick Jauron, after his first victory as Bears coach, pronounced himself satisfied with the player favored to be the opening-day starter.
"He makes things happen," Jauron said. "That's what he did in college, that's what we anticipate he can do and that's what he did."
McNown played behind a line that included no more than two starters at any one time. His first two series were a blur, three-and-outs, including that sack for a 9-yard loss and one pass smacked back at him at the line of scrimmage out of the shotgun formation.
But Jauron chose to keep him in, and on his third series he loosened up. Two plays after a 14-yard gain on an interference penalty came McNown's first NFL completion--a short pass to Damon Washington out of the backfield that turned into a 21-yard gain.
A 3-yard completion to Marcus Robinson gave the Bears the ball on the Colts' 29-yard line, and a 25-yard interference penalty on another pass to Robinson set them up on the Colts' 4. But a false start by Bears guard Greg Huntington, his third of the game and second of the series, moved them back, and two McNown passes into the right corner of the end zone missed, so the field goal team came on.
Still, after a 12-day contract holdout and six practices in training camp last week, McNown already was looking forward to Friday night in Pittsburgh, where he probably will not start but can expect more time.
"That's up to the coaches," McNown said. "I enjoyed getting a chance to go out there and play. I would have loved to play the whole game. But it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do."
Though all agreed Saturday night was a typical preseason affair with 18 combined penalties and limited game plans that contributed to poor execution by both teams, the Bears' defense did manage to look impressive.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, coming off a record-setting rookie season, was just 3 for 8 for 33 yards and one interception, by Bears corner Tom Carter. The Bears held the Colts to one first down, 3 yards rushing and 33 yards passing.
"The thing that we were most pleased with is how hard they played," Jauron said. "They were aggressive throughout. That's one of the things we were concerned about coming in."
Shane Matthews was 8 for 18 for 110 yards in one half of play as the Bears, under his direction, scored just three points on Sauerbrun's 25-yard field goal.
Among those making good impressions was free-agent pickup Chris Canty, who returned punts of 18 and 14 yards. Rookie safety Rashard Cook had two crunching tackles in the first half. And second-year receiver Macey Brooks had five first-half catches for 51 yards.