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Bears hope Barkley keeps improving

After performing well in two starts at Soldier Field, quarterback Matt Barkley will face his most difficult test to date Sunday when the Bears visit the first-place Lions.

"You go on the road and it's a different experience for a quarterback," said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. "He's starting a road game. He did play a little bit in Green Bay [Oct. 20], but he was coming off the bench and he didn't take one practice rep.

"Now he's got a chance to own this game plan, have a full knowledge of it; what's going into it. We're excited to see how he goes out and plays. We expect him to play well."

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Bears quarterback Matt Barkley will face his most difficult test to date Sunday when the Bears visit the first-place Lions.

Making his first NFL start two weeks ago against the Titans, Barkley rebounded from two red-zone interceptions to nearly lead the Bears to a win after trailing by 20 points in the fourth quarter for the first time in team history. He threw the first three touchdown passes of his career and would have had a fourth had Joshua Bellamy not dropped a potential-game winner in the final minute.

Playing a game in the snow for the first time last Sunday, Barkley completed 11 of 18 passes for 192 yards with no turnovers and a 97.5 passer rating in leading the Bears to a convincing 26-6 win over the 49ers.

"I don't think Matt has flinched at all," Loggains said. "I think Matt knows who he is. He's a quiet guy, he's a leader, he's an encourager. He talks to guys a lot, does a really good job.

"I was coming off the [practice] field and he had the running backs out there running routes and catching footballs. What I've seen the biggest difference is is how other guys respond to him, how open he is with those guys and how well he communicates with them."

Barkley sparked a Bears offense that had been trudging along in the snow last Sunday with a key two-minute drill at the end of the first half. He completed 4 of 5 passes for 64 yards to set up Jordan Howard's 1-yard TD run, which gave the Bears a 7-6 lead they would not relinquish.

"He's done a really good job of coming in and having great command and poise in the pocket and control in the huddle," Loggains said. "In my opinion, where he's stood out is when we've been in our no-huddle, two-minute situations. He's done a nice job that way."

Despite starting games for the first time since he was at USC, Barkley has shown very little rust.

"It was kind of like riding a bike," he said. "Once you have a full week of reps under your belt and you get into that flow, it's picked up where it left off I felt like from college."

Barkley is the fourth quarterback the Bears have utilized this year. The first three—Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Connor Shaw—all have suffered season-ending injuries.

The Bears signed the former USC standout to their practice squad Sept. 5 and promoted him to their active roster Sept. 22. He relieved an injured Cutler Oct. 20 in Green Bay and didn't play again until his starts the past two weeks.

Selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, Barkley appeared in four games over two seasons with Philadelphia, completing 30 of 50 passes for 300 yards with four interceptions and a 43.7 passer rating.

Barkley was traded from the Eagles to the Cardinals last September. He did not appear in a regular-season game but remained with Arizona until he was released this past August. Though he didn't play, Barkley was motivated by watching 36-year-old quarterback Carson Palmer.

"It made me hungry," Barkley said. "Seeing Carson work gave me a new perspective on what it means to be an NFL quarterback. Coming from a vet with his experience and how he still works his butt off every day—harder than anyone else on the team—gave me a new perspective on the position and made me hungry to want to play."

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