The pass-catching and running of fullback Merril Hoge. The quick delivery of quarterback Erik Kramer. The short bursts of tailback Lewis Tillman. And the sure hands of tight end Chris Gedney.
Those were a few of the bright spots for the Bears in their 12-6 preseason victory Friday night over the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.
Arizona Cardinals in Tempe next Saturday night, matched their win total for the entire preseasons of 1992 and `93.
Defensively, linebacker Jim Schwantz came up with a big fourth-down sack to thwart an Eagles drive with 7 minutes left. And rookie free-agent cornerback Donny Brooks continued to force Bear coaches to take a hard look at him.
The Bears wasted little time showing off their newfound offensive prowess. In the first four minutes, they marched 70 yards in nine plays, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Kramer to Hoge.
Kramer completed five of six passes on the drive, including an opening toss of 14 yards to Gedney.
Kevin Butler's extra-point attempt failed when holder Chris Gardocki dropped the snap from center.
Wide receiver Curtis Conway injured his hamstring during the Bears' second possession. Conway missed several practices a week ago with a tender hamstring.
Still, he is approaching this season with greater optimism than in his disappointing rookie campaign. He has gained 12 pounds, up to 195, while maintaining his 4.4 speed in the 40.
"In college, I wasn't worried too much about my weight, but I felt last year it would have helped my game to gain some weight," said Conway, who caught 19 passes last season. "I'm already fast, so if I could be stronger that would be even better."
As a first-round draft pick, Conway was expected to make a major impact last year.
"I'm not pressured like I was then," he said. "It's like night and day from last year to this year. I know what is ahead of me now. I know how to deal with different injuries and stuff. That first year you're just kind of lost."
The Eagles halved the Bears' lead when Eddie Murray booted a 34-yard field goal with 12 minutes 32 seconds left in the second quarter. The Philadelphia drive covered 47 yards in 13 plays. Defensive tackle Carl Simpson sacked quarterback Randall Cunningham on third down to force the Eagles' three-point attempt.
The Bears took a 9-3 lead with 5:08 to go in the half on Butler's 35-yard field goal. An apparent 7-yard TD pass from Kramer to Gedney was nullified when Tillman was penalized for illegal use of hands. The drive then deteriorated and Butler was summoned.
Butler missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt with :09 left in the half.
Kramer was 9 of 17 for 79 yards and one TD in his first-half stint. Backup Steve Walsh took over late in the second period, going 6 of 8 for 50 yards. He had one pass intercepted by Rich Miano.
Cunningham was 5 of 6 for 34 yards in the first half before giving way to second-year man Preston Jones of Georgia.
Murray boomed a 45-yard field goal with 8:38 left in the third period to close the gap to 9-6.
Bears free-agent kicker Daron Alcorn missed a 41-yard attempt after Walsh directed the offense to the Eagles' 24 midway through the third period.
Alcorn converted on his next try, however, booting a 27-yarder to give the Bears a 12-6 lead early in the fourth period.
Walsh wound up with 12 of 18 for 117 yards and one interception. Shane Matthews took over at quarterback with about 11 minutes remaining.
Bears 12, eagles 6
New Bears spark win
Kramer pass to Hoge caps lone TD drive
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.