Rookie cornerback Deiondre Hall learned a valuable lesson in his NFL debut.
“It’s just football,” the Bears’ fourth-round draft pick from Northern Iowa said.
The 6-2, 201-pound Hall looked like he belonged Thursday night in the Bears’ preseason opener at Soldier Field. Attacked from the start, Hall made excellent plays for back-to-back pass break-ups in the end zone on Trevor Siemian passes to Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor that forced the Broncos to settle for a field goal.
He was just doing what he’s been taught.
“Don’t panic downfield,” Hall said. “You hear that ‘ball, ball, ball’ call — that’s when that sense kicks in. You’ve got to know [to] just stay patient and wait — either get the head around or play through the hands. And I just decided to play through the hands both times.”
Hall also had good coverage on a third-down incompletion that forced a punt. But he also was burned for a 21-hard pass play from Siemian to Cody Latimer, getting beat for the catch and missing a shoe-string tackle on the play.
“You can’t be great overnight,” Hall said. “I want to perfect my technique and keep learning.”
But he’s got a lot of confidence after getting off to a good start
“Absolutely,” Hall said. “It just gives me extra faith. It’s fun. And we’re all doing what we love. Just for me to get that opportunity in my first NFL game — preseason or not — it’s a blessing. It’s just fun.”
Tracy Porter sits
Cornerback Tracy Porter was a surprise scratch in the preseason opener. He said he is not injured, but the coaching staff decided to sit him out. Porter hopes to play next Thursday against the Patriots.
“That was a decision from above. I had no say-so,” Porter said. “I’m fine.”
Bryce Callahan had an eventful night in his place. Callahan was burned for a 32-yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez to a wide-open Demaryius Thomas. But Callahan atoned for that misplay on the next drive — leaping to tip a Sanchez pass, leading to an interception by Jerrell Freeman.
“It wasn’t like the guy beat him on a route or out-maneuvered him or was more athletic than him,” Porter said. “He immediately came to the sideline and told me, ‘My eyes were caught in the backfield’ before I could even tell him what he did wrong. He knew what he did. If he [doesn’t] keep his eyes in the backfield, Bryce makes that play in his sleep.”
Jeffery feels “great”
After missing most of the last five practices with a sore hamstring, Alshon Jeffery caught one pass for 12 yards.
“It feels great,” Jeffery said of the hamstring. “I wish we’d have scored, but other than that, I felt pretty good.”
Bears coach John Fox said he thought it was “real critical” that Jeffery — and Kevin White — played in the preseason opener. “Alshon worked hard to get back,” Fox said. “He had some good days in practice. Felt good. He didn’t have a whole lot of time [in the game], but having them both out there, that’s good.”
Hoyer under siege
Bears back-up quarterback Brian Hoyer was sacked twice and fumbled under another heavy rush (with teammate Garry Williams recovering) and threw an interception in an uneven opening performance. Hoyer was 7-of-10 for 81 yards and 54.6 rating in the first half.
Siemian vs. Sanchez
Siemian — the former Northwestern quarterback battling Mark Sanchez for the Broncos’ starting job — replaced Sanchez for the Broncos’ fourth series in the first quarter. He was 7-of-12 for 81 yards yards in the first half.
“I had a few [fans at the game],” Siemian said. “My folks made it up. A bunch of my old buddies, old players, were here. I couldn’t join them for the tailgate, but I will see a couple of them [later Thursday night].”
“Trevor is in command of what we do,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s probably in the best command in all honesty because Mark continues to learn our offense and he’s doing a great job. But Trevor has been on for a year-and-a-half. Trevor is in command of what we do, how we do it and what we want to get done. He just needs to play.”
Work in progress
Special teams contributed to an overall shaky opening performance when Pat O’Donnell’s punt was blocked by Fowler and recovered by Zaire Anderson in the end zone for a touchdown. Fowler beat rookie DeAndre Houston-Carson for the block.
On the bright side, Chris Prosinski blocked a Brandon McManis field goal attempt on the final play of the first half.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey left the game in the second half to undergo concussion protocol. Defensive end Cornelius Washingon (knee/ankle) and rookie safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (neck) also did not finish.
Tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Eddie Royal — both recovering from concussions — worked out before the game but did not dress.
Others who were not in uniform were linebacker Pernell McPhee (PUP list), wide receiver Marquess Wilson (PUP), tight ends Greg Scruggs and Ben Braunecker, wide receiver Derek Keaton, linebacker Roy Robertson-Harris, guard Amini Silatolu and center Hroniss Grasu (torn ACL).
“We still have some guys that have got to get out there in Eddie Royal and Zach,” Fox said. “So we’re still short some guys that hopefully we get back this week.”