The Bears offensive line performed well last Sunday in its first game under new coach Juan Castillo. But the unit is far from reaching its ceiling.
The starting five of left tackle Charles Leno Jr., left guard James Daniels, center Cody Whitehair, right guard Germain Ifedi and right tackle Bobby Massie helped the Bears score three touchdowns, compile 362 yards and 26 first downs, and allow just one sack in a 27-23 comeback win over the Lions.
"They're just keeping their heads down and listening to what they're taught," said coach Matt Nagy. "I have a history with Juan (with the Eagles), and I know how he teaches and I know what he expects with the details in practice. I know how he treats them off the field in regards to making sure they understand the compassion that he has for them as people.
"He's going to work them hard. They're still going to get better. There's a lot of room for improvement. You can see on the back end of some of these runs, there is some cut blocking that is going on. I think we'll only get better at that as the year goes on. We couldn't cut our own guys in training camp. Each game, that's something for you all to look at and see and get a feel for. But so far, Week 1 was pretty good. We just have to keep it going."
Amoeba defense: The offensive line will face a unique challenge Sunday when the Bears host the New York Giants in their home opener at Soldier Field.
Under first-year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, the Giants employed what's known as an "amoeba defense" on some passing situations in last Monday night's season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The amoeba concept features linemen and linebackers standing upright and walking around before the snap to disguise who's rushing the passer and who's dropping into coverage.
"It can be challenging at times for offenses; there's no doubt about it," Nagy said. "There's moving parts. We'll have our own plan as to how we want to attack that and they'll have their own plan knowing that we're watching [and] what we want to do. That's kind of the cat-and-mouse part of [it]."
Injury update: Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks did not practice Thursday due to illness. For the second straight day, outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn were limited due to knee injuries.
For the Giants, receiver Golden Tate (hamstring), defensive back Adrian Colbert (quad) and linebacker Carter Coughlin (hamstring) were limited. Linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring) practiced without restrictions.
Jolt of energy: In a quiet stadium devoid of fans due to the coronavirus, Cordarrelle Patterson energized the Bears sideline last Sunday in Detroit with a 45-yard kickoff return.
The runback came after the Lions had extended their lead to 23-6 late in the third quarter. It set up the first of three fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Bears, who rallied for a stunning 27-23 victory at Ford Field.
"We talk about that in the kick return game that if they score on us, it's our job to try to re-establish the momentum back in our area," said special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor. "We want to keep pressure on teams. The guys did a nice job on that one.
"There was a couple of previous ones that we thought we just needed to get a few things cleaned up and if we did, we would have a shot. That's what took place. So, [we] feel fortunate there. But this week will be another tough test for us because [the Giants] can cover kicks."