Chicago Bears

Bears’ mission: No repeat of last year

BOURBONNAIS – Bears quarterback Jay Cutler remembers his last visit to New Meadowlands Stadium to play the New York Giants.

At least, Cutler remembers most of it.

It was Week 4 of last season, and Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half for an unwanted franchise record. He suffered a concussion and sat out the second half of the Bears’ loss to the Giants and Week 5 at Carolina.

On Wednesday, Cutler prepared for his next trip to New Meadowlands. The Bears will play the Giants on Monday in their second preseason game.

Was Cutler looking forward to returning to the scene of last season’s debacle and creating a more positive memory this time around?

“I don’t know about that,” Cutler said with a chuckle after practice at Olivet Nazarene University. “It’s a preseason game. So we’ve just got to take it for what it is, and do our jobs. Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of last year.”

So far, the Bears’ offensive line has prompted too many flashbacks.

The Bears allowed nine sacks in their preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills last weekend at Soldier Field. In six plays, Cutler completed one pass for 0 yards and was sacked once and chased from the pocket once.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said the numbers were misleading. He said the offensive line was to blame for only three of the nine sacks.

“There were some other pressures in there, too,” said Martz, whose offense allowed a league-worst 56 sacks in 2010. “But the rest of them were other things involved with the offense. ... We’ll just leave it at that.”

That’s why Martz and the rest of the Bears’ coaching staff decided to leave the offensive line unchanged after Saturday’s 10-3 win.

If they change their minds, Wednesday’s practice revealed another option.

Right guard Lance Louis left practice early because of sickness, which forced Martz and offensive line coach Mike Tice to act quickly. They inserted Chris Spencer at center and moved Roberto Garza to right guard, where he has played the bulk of his career.

“I had no choice,” Tice said. “It will be good film for me to look at.”

For now, Martz and Tice remain committed to the starting five of J’Marcus Webb, Chris Williams, Garza, Louis and Gabe Carimi.

Martz said it was too soon for any combination to be permanent. He mentioned Spencer and Frank Omiyale as alternate possibilities to start.

“In two or three weeks we’ll have a better feel for where we are,” Martz said. “It’s hard to draw any conclusions about anything right now. ...

“I’ll expect remarkable improvement over the next few weeks. I’m sure that’ll happen.”

Millions of Bears fans – and a certain quarterback who wears No. 6 – sure hope so.

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