Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

In the battle to start opposite Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian impressed in the Hall of Fame Game, but one mistake will stick in the minds of the decision makers.

Berrian was all over the field against the Miami Dolphins. He took the opening kickoff, returned three punts and had a 23-yard reception to convert a third and 8. He even drew a pass interference penalty to give the Bears another first down.

However, the moment that hurt Berrian is a drop on a third down and 7 slant route. Hauling in the pass that hit him in the hands would have meant a fresh set of downs in Miami territory. The search is on for a dependable target opposite Muhammad and Berrian needs to prove he can hold onto the ball if he's going to win the starting job.

"We're pleased with what the first offense was able to do," said head coach Lovie Smith. "We're not happy with some of the penalties and drops."

Berrian got the nod ahead of Justin Gage and showed why. The six-foot-1, 180-pound Berrian looked to be a step ahead of whatever cornerback was covering him, including being five yards ahead of the defender on a pass Rex Grossman overthrew him for a sure touchdown.

Consecutive receptions midway though the second quarter gave credence to Berrian's performance. He finished the night with three receptions for 64 yards, with each of catch going for at least 20 yards.

Justin Gage got on the field in the second quarter with the second team offense. The first ball that went his way was behind him and fell incomplete. On another near miss, Gage was wide open for a touchdown, but Chad Hutchinson overshot the intended target.

Obviously the competition is far from over, but with four games remaining on the preseason schedule, Berrian has to be considered the early favorite. Production in a game supersedes anything that has happened in Bourbonnais.


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