Sports

Bears presason: Hoax or real deal?

Because preseason NFL football barely resembles the real thing most of the time, it can be tough to determine how much stock to put into what you're seeing. That goes double for the Bears' warm-up Thursday against San Diego at Soldier Field, which featured Manti Te'o's return to the Chicago area. We're to help you sort out what resembles a hoax and what deserves your concern.

 

Manti Te'o's injury

How real: 4 out of 5

The former Notre Dame linebacker was in a walking boot and sidelined for Thursday's game. We know—we've been here before. But considering he never missed a game while playing for the Irish, this is (probably) legit. No sign of Dr. Phil, either. Thank goodness.

 

Devin Hester's elusiveness

How real: 5 out of 5

He returned the opening kickoff 45 yards. It's impressive because special teams players—the ones trying to tackle Hester—typically are on the bubble. Meaning if they don't impress, they're probably not gonna make the team.

 

Cutler's dependence on Marshall

How real: 5 out of 5

Jay Cutler completed four passes for 38 yards Thursday. All of them to Brandon Marshall. We shouldn't be surprised, considering Marshall caught 41 percent of the Bears' passes in the 2012 regular season. But someone else HAS to get Cutler's attention.

 

Chris Berman's enthusiasm

How real: 1 out of 5

We're not questioning how much the ESPN broadcaster loves football. He really, really, REALLY loves football. We're just thinking that in the preseason, all that energy has to be coming from somewhere else. Like alternating shots of Red Bull and 5-hour Energy.

 

Thursday's weather

How real: 2 out of 5

Seriously? Barely 70 degrees at kickoff for a mid-August game, and lows in the upper 50s?! That's just not right. We sure hope the rest of August doesn't feel like mid-May.

 

Corey Wootton's sack dance

How real: 4 out of 5

Not a bad celebration effort, especially considering it's just the preseason. We'll expect a much more polished effort come midseason, however—something worthy of Sack Dancing with the Stars. Think Clay Matthews or Jared Allen, only less obnoxious.

 

Lovie Smith's influence

How real: 3 out of 5

The Bears defense forced two turnovers in the first quarter, against the Chargers' first-team offense. Very reminiscent of Smith's takeaway-obsessed crew. The only reason this isn't higher? San Diego QB Philip Rivers is not the most sure-handed guy out there.

 

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