INDIANAPOLIS – The Bears turned an 11-9 halftime deficit into a 23-11 preseason win over the Colts Thursday night due in large part to rookie running back Jeremy Langford.
The fourth-round pick from Michigan State set up one touchdown with a 46-yard run and scored another himself as the Bears outscored the Colts 14-0 in the second half.
"He has talent and now he's learning how we play offense," said coach John Fox. "There are some growing pains that come with that, but he definitely improved over last week [against the Dolphins]—not that last week's performance was bad. They start getting comfortable and they can actually play and not be thinking. I think you'll continue to see him improving."
Langford's 46-yard dash up the middle led to Jimmy Clausen's 12-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Bellamy, giving the Bears a 16-11 lead midway through the third quarter.
Langford's 2-yard TD run later in the third period was even more impressive, however. Finding no daylight up the middle, he bounced off a tackler, raced around right end and drove safety Clayton Geathers into the end zone.
"That's something I do," Langford said when asked about his ad-lib ability. "You've got to be a playmaker. A lot of plays aren't going to be how you want them to be."
Langford led the Bears in rushing with 80 yards on nine carries. Asked how the outing may impact his standing with coaches, he said: "I don't know. I just try my best to do what I can control, which is making plays and doing my best on special teams. Whatever happens from there happens."
Lineup change: Second-year pro Charles Leno Jr. Jr. started at right tackle in place of Jordan Mills. Leno made a mistake early, drawing a penalty for illegal hands-to-the-face on the Bears' third play from scrimmage that nullified Jay Cutler's 42-yard pass to Bellamy.
"It's competition," Fox said. "No jobs have been won yet. We're still figuring out who our 53 best players are going to be. We'll continue to do that."
Hold your breath: On another play that was wiped out by a penalty—this time holding against right guard Kyle Long—Cutler ducked his head and bowled over cornerback Greg Toler near the goal line. Cutler was ruled out of bounds at the 1 after a 12-yard run on third-and-goal.
"You hold your breath any time a guy goes down or was hit pretty solid, and particularly quarterbacks," Fox said. "It's a physical game. I thought it was good for the team. It didn't count on the board, but I think overall it was an excellent effort."
Welcome back: Outside linebackers Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, both of whom are returning from season-ending leg injuries last year, made their preseason debuts against the Colts.
"I think they've showed good progress and good confidence building in practice," Fox said. "We've had some physical practices, but there's really nothing like playing live football against an opponent. I think they probably both feel good about getting over that hump."
Running back Kyle Long also made his preseason debut after being rested against the Dolphins, rushing for 24 yards on eight carries with a long of 11 yards.
Stepping up: Cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who's listed third on the depth chart, made a huge play when he out-jumped receiver Donte Moncrief to intercept a Matt Hasselbeck pass late in the first half.
"That was a big-time play," Fox said. "I think that was a good catch, whether you're playing wideout or DB. A very similar route that we got earlier in the game. He squeezed it pretty good and went up and made a great catch."
Aches and pains: Receiver Marquess Wilson exited Thursday night's game with a hamstring injury.
"I don't think it's overly serious, but he did not come back," Fox said. "Other than that, we're pretty healthy."