The Chicago Bears' 31-3 preseason-opening loss to Denver reflected the sporadic nature of their training camp and practices to date.
The offensive line situation remains unsettled even though offensive coordinator Mike Tice tried to stablize it by naming five starters before the first preseason game. Injuries to key players or the need to rest veterans have made both the offense and the defense look vulnerable. In the first preseason game, Brian Urlacher, Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Julius Peppers all sat, and several of them have been rested at various times during camp, as well.
Mixed with the new collective bargaining agreement, which requires a day off for four days of practice, these situations have led to uneven performances and a general lack of consistency.
Questions to be answered in exhibition season:
1. Is the offensive line good enough to protect Jay Cutler? The Bears' first preseason game did nothing to further the idea that the changes made on the offensive line will make it easier for Cutler to pass -- or for Matt Forte to run. LT J'Marcus Webb experienced a nightmare first preseason game, and now his job is being challenged again by Chris Williams, who hasn't been impressive. The other spots appear to be fine, if Gabe Carimi can continue making progress from his knee surgeries. Mike Tice has said he needs to see a meaner streak in his left tackle. Blocking would help, too.
2. Is there a legitimate replacement for Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker if his injury proves to be a season-long problem? His knee pain currently isn't expected to keep him from starting in the opener, but the fact it's still an issue eight months-plus after occurring, and it didn't necessitate surgery, are cause for alarm. Nick Roach is playing there, but there will be questions if he has to start there because he didn't stand out in 2009 when he played the spot.
3. Can they achieve consistency in the passing game? The lack of blocking in the first preseason game made it difficult to evaluate anything offensively. In practice, the passing game hits one day, or in one part of practice, and other days or in other parts of practice it struggles. Tempo and rhythm in the passing game are critical in this offensive scheme, and it's been difficult to achieve immediately. Likely, only more work over the next few weeks will do it.
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLCHI.