Bears vs. Raiders preview

Matt Trowbridge

Jay Cutler will play longer than eight snaps this time, but Chicago’s second preseason game, just like the first, remains primarily about the backup players when the Bears face the Oakland Raiders at 7:30 tonight at Soldier Field.

Make that would-be backups.

“That second group, they are just trying to make a spot for themselves in this league and take every opportunity they can to make a play to show us that they belong on this roster,” offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. “It’s no different for a quarterback than it is for a guard or a receiver or a tight end. They are all in the same boat.”

Perhaps the most interesting test will be how the Bears run defense stacks up against the Raiders. Oakland counters with Darren McFadden, the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2008, and a host of other fast backs.

“They are a good running team,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “We want to see if we’re a good downhill defense. We’re going to be physical taking on blocks, be disciplined in our gap control and see who can react to their keys.”

One thing the Bears won’t do is blitz as much as the Chargers blitzed them in Chicago’s 25-10 last week. Doing so might help Chicago win tonight, but Marinelli said it would be an empty win.

“If you overscheme it, sometimes the offense is not ready for it and you are winning by a scheme,” Marinelli said. “They may not be ready. By the regular season, they will be ready.”

So if the Bears do call an occasional blitz, it might serve Chicago better in the long run if the Raiders see it coming.

“You want to see who can beat a block,” Marinelli said. “The worst thing (in preseason) is to get a blitzer and he’s free. During the regular season, you like that, but right now, you want to see which blitzers can beat a block so you can evaluate.”

Cutler should play most of the first half tonight after being pulled early when San Diego kept blitzing last week. But he said the Bears will again keep their offense fairly “basic.”

“We’re mixing some stuff in there, but these four preseason games don’t count,” Cutler said. “Once we get in that first week, the record is clean again and that’s where everything starts to count and the bullets are for real.”

Martz said the simple plays philosophy will extend to the offensive line. “Let’s not make things hard for them,” he said.

Because if things prove hard for the offensive line, they will prove hard for all the Bears. Next to stopping the run, Chicago’s most interesting test tonight will be how the line, with new right guard Lance Louis, holds up.

“The offensive line is the centerpiece that allows us to do what we do,” Martz said. “It has to do with everything. When we’re solid on the offensive line, it allows you to do the things you want to do, whether it’s running the ball or throwing it.”

Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or