Last Monday night Kyle Orton proved he could dump the ball off to running back Adrian Peterson, but more will be expected Sunday afternoon against the Packers when Orton gets his second start.
Against the Vikings Orton needed to knock off two years of rust, plus deal with the obnoxious racket in the Metrodome and a defense that made the Bears one-dimensional by eliminating any threat of a running game.
"It was a tough environment to play in, no question about it," Orton said, "especially going up against their defense. But it felt like I thought it would, and I just have to work to get better."
Specifically, Orton said he needs to do a better job of seeing the whole field and hopefully looking beyond Peterson, who caught eight of Orton's completions.
"Just keeping my eyes up and seeing where everybody is going," Orton said. "There were a couple times where they had some good disguises, and on those plays I struggled. As long as I can see everything, I can get the ball there and move the offense."
It should be easier this week in front of the home crowd, although the Packers are no slouches when it comes to playing defense. They're No. 6 in points allowed and No. 1 in third-down defense.
The biggest difference between them and the Vikings is that the Packers defense offers a better opportunity for big plays, provided Bears wideouts can beat the man-to-man coverage of cornerbacks Al Harris, who made the Pro Bowl, and Charles Woodson, who's an even better all-around player.
The Vikings' Cover-2 defense, with two safeties playing deep, prevented any of Orton's 22 completions from picking up as much as 20 yards. The Packers rely on their corners to go man-to-man without as much deep help.
"When you play a Cover-2 team, I know people want you to get the ball down the field and make big plays, and we certainly want to as an offense," Orton said. "But if they're only rushing four guys and playing Cover-2, checkdowns certainly go up in your thinking."
Orton's thought process will be different against the Packers.
CBs Charles Woodson and Al Harris
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
"They come up and challenge you and have guys in your face the entire game," he said. "They lock those corners up man-to-man and make you make plays down the field."
The Bears wanted to strike down the field last week, but they didn't get the opportunities they were looking for.
"We tried to take some shots," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "Part of it was what they were doing. They were in a lot of Cover-2, and it's tough to take shots in that situation. To score points we've got to make some big plays, so we've got to manufacture them sometimes."
That's especially true with a pathetic running game that has been held under 85 yards 11 times in 14 games and has a total of just 160 yards in the past three games for an average of 2.5 yards per carry. That absence of a run threat puts more pressure on Orton and the entire team.
"It's harder for the quarterback,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “It's harder for us period. "It's harder for our team when you're a running team number one, and you haven't been able to run the football. But an offense still has to be able to take what teams give you, and if you can't run the ball, you have to be able to gain some ground with the pass. And again, we haven't been able to do that."
Smith expects Orton to do a better job throwing the ball, even if that's the only route the Bears can travel.
"We all can take another step from where we are, and that's what we're hoping we'll get from Kyle," Smith said. "Normally there is a pretty big jump from your first to your second game, and hopefully that'll be the case."
News & NotesDE Mark Anderson missed a second straight day of practice Thursday and is not expected to play Sunday.
CB Nathan Vasher (knee) missed a second straight day of practice Thursday but said he's "definitely" playing Sunday, although he said his chances last week were "slim to none." However, he played nearly every snap while getting his first pick of the season after missing 10 straight games with a groin injury.
LB Lance Briggs (hip) missed a second straight day of practice Thursday but is expected to play Sunday.
WR Devin Hester returned to full practice Thursday after missing a day with a shin injury.
QB Kyle Orton's last start against Green Bay was just over two years ago, when he completed six of 17 passes for 68 yards, one interception and a passer rating of 23.7 while being sacked three times.
Could Cedric Benson's reign in the backfield be over?
Same problems on offense despite coordinator carousel
A look back at the Fog Bowl against Buddy Ryan's Eagles
Remembering legendary Hall-of-Famer George Musso
Getting to know rookie cornerback Corey Graham
All of that plus much more in the February issue of ...
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