Krenzel Appears to be Next in Line

Lake Forest - The Bears passed on Tim Couch, which may disappoint fans that need one to lie on in order to get through the rest of this season. Craig Krenzel is expected to get his first NFL start.

The decision not to sign Couch points to his arm still being sore a day after his initial workout with the team.

"The workout that he had was okay," Lovie Smith said. "As much as anything we like the three quarterbacks we're working with right now,"

If Couch were healthy there was little doubt he would be a member of the Bears. There is still a chance that he could end up in Chicago during the off-season; if the additional rest means his arm is at full strength.

In the meantime, Smith appears to be leaning toward giving Krenzel his first career start.

The rookie made his NFL debut in the second half against the Tampa Bay Bucs, completing 9-of-19 for 69 yards and an interception. While the offense still looked bad with Krenzel behind center, the unit did produce their first touchdown in six quarters.

"I thought for a rookie coming in and playing for the first time I thought he did a lot of good things," Smith said. "I think he managed the game well."

Ultimately Smith does not want to continue to split practice reps between Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn. Making the decision to go with Krenzel would allow him a full week of practice to prepare for the 1-5 San Francisco 49ers.

"I think things got a lot clearer during the course of the game, but our ideal situation is to go with one quarterback," Smith said.

At this point, the Bears don't plan to pursue any other outside options to aid in their quarterback search.

Chad Hutchinson has been with the team for a month and could emerge as the starter by the end of the season.

"His knowledge has improved an awful lot. I thought he really threw the ball well throughout the week, so it'll be interesting to see (what happens)," Smith said.

For all the talk about the quarterback there are other reasons the Bears lost their fourth straight game.

Although Smith didn't agree with all of the calls, the team committed 10 penalties for 78 yards. Many of the flags came at crucial times, including negating a touchdown and an interception.

"The penalties bothered me quite a bit, just mistakes that we're making," Smith said. "I just feel like at this stage of our season we're talking about mental mistakes. If another team beats us and we played our best game you have to live with that, but I don't think that's the case right now. I think we're beating ourselves a little bit by some of the mental things that we're doing wrong."

The defense also allowed Michael Pittman to go rush for 109 yards, which is the third consecutive game an opposing running back has gone over the century mark and fourth time this season.

"You have to be able to stop the run and we weren't able to do that," Smith said.

The Bears rush defense is tied for 29th in the league, allowing 139.3 yards per game on the ground.

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