It's halftime for observations of Bears

Too early to draw conclusions, but midway preseason, some things taking shape

We can't put a grade on this Bears team two games into the exhibition schedule, nor can we throw out absolutes on personnel or scheme. Plenty needs to be cleaned up on offense, and we don't want to overreact because the Bears' No. 1 defense beat up on a bad Chargers team Thursday night at Soldier Field.

However, we can look at the development of young talent on the roster, begin to break down what the Bears are trying to establish offensively and continue to watch their progression throughout the summer.

Here are five things I'm seeing at the midway point of the preseason:

Long's development: First-round draft pick Kyle Long is making me eat some crow already. I questioned the pick in April, cited his lack of experience and also brought up the talent the Bears left on the draft board. But there is a reason coach Marc Trestman bumped up Long to the first unit, and that was evident Thursday.

Long's ability to pull and work to the second level stands out, as does the power he displays finishing blocks. This youngster is nasty at the point of attack. Long has developed at a much quicker rate than I expected, and he will see more quality reps Friday versus the Raiders. Has Long arrived? Not yet … but the early return is pretty darn good.

Offense in transition: The No. 1 offense has lacked consistency. Take the first series against the Chargers: three negative plays followed by a punt. However, the Bears did come back to execute on the toss crack to Matt Forte for an explosive gain, scored on a converted fade route from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall and ran the ball with production inside the 5-yard line. Along with the play of Long and fellow rookie Jordan Mills on the offensive line, the Bears are doing some good things they can build on.

You can see a small sample of what Trestman wants to do with Cutler based on the quick three-step combinations on third downs (slant-flat route) and some of the boot schemes. And the Bears did make an effort to run the ball Thursday. But this offense is far from a finished product and has plenty of room to grow before it catches up to the level of the experienced Bears defense.

Bostic's learning curve: Jon Bostic isn't game-ready, but the rookie linebacker has made the type of plays the first two weeks of the preseason that will jump off the screen when the coaches roll the tape. I call them "splash plays." Go back to the interception return for a touchdown versus Cam Newton and the Panthers or the hit Thursday that almost decapitated Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie on a screen pass.

Bostic does need more reps versus the inside running game to drill his hands, feet and eyes. Plus, the rookie has to be much quicker in his run-pass reads. That was evident on the touchdown pass off play action Thursday against the Bears' Cover-2 shell. But that can be coached and will come for Bostic with more game action. The key here is the rookie's speed and ability to show up on tape with big plays. That's exciting.

Bennett's, Jeffery's lack of involvement: Tight end Martellus Bennett has yet to be targeted in the preseason, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has just one reception on a quick, "sight-adjust" slant route (check at the line of scrimmage) versus the Panthers. I understand Cutler's trust in Marshall to finish plays, but distributing the football has been a key discussion point since Trestman was hired.

Time to panic in mid-August? Not quite, but it's too easy to say this can be solved when the regular season starts. With the key starters expected to sit (or see very limited playing time) in the final exhibition, Cutler has one final opportunity this summer to work on the passing game and move the ball around. And there have to be more options in the route tree besides No. 15. That's what we saw (again) versus the Chargers when Cutler forced the deep seam route to Marshall that resulted in an interception.

Strong pass rush: With Julius Peppers sitting out again Thursday, Shea McClellin and Corey Wootton saw more time at defensive end. McClellin made a nice move at the point of attack and showed off his speed while turning the corner to record a sack and forced fumble. And Wootton gave rookie D.J. Fluker a "welcome to the NFL" moment by setting up the tackle and ducking inside to rack up a sack.

If the Bears can get continued production from McClellin and Wootton, they have the ability to feature a front four in nickel situations that is very athletic when you add Peppers and Henry Melton to the mix. This would allow the defense to play more Cover-2 in passing situations and force the quarterback to come off his deep reads early in the progression. That's a beautiful thing.

Twitter @MattBowen41

Special contributor Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety and is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report.

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