Bears stock report: Week One

Posted Sept. 12, 2011 @ 2:21 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

PFW associate editor Dan Parr offers his stock analysis of the Bears and identifies who, or what, is on the rise or decline following their Week One win over the Falcons.

Rising

DT Henry Melton — Melton, making his first career start, wreaked havoc in Atlanta's backfield, recording two sacks and five additional hits on QB Matt Ryan. His three-technique position is a key one in Chicago's defense, and he has the ability to give the interior D-line a dose of explosiveness that it lacked far too often last season.

Offensive line — This much-maligned group didn't answer every question or ease all concerns in one game. It's off to a solid start, though. The Falcons were credited with five sacks on Jay Cutler, but two of them were not the fault of the offensive line. The front five did a nice job of enduring a personnel change, as Chris Spencer replaced the injured Lance Louis at right guard in the second quarter.

Production on offense — Improvement is expected in the offense's second season under Mike Martz, and the Bears certainly looked like a more potent attack against the Falcons. Personnel moves that Martz was in favor of — signing WR Roy Williams and the big changes at tight end — weren't very popular, but Williams had a pretty good day (four catches on all four targets for 55 yards) and free-agent addition TE Matt Spaeth, a blocking specialist, had a one-yard TD catch. There were some questionable play calls — including a first-quarter end-around to undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher that resulted in a loss of four yards — but Chicago's offense, which ranked 30th in the league last season, is ranked 12th after one game this season.

Falling

Concerns over turnover on special teams — Coordinator Dave Toub had a shortened offseason to get his special-teams units in order, and he had to do it without some key contributors from past seasons. There is a younger, less-experienced crop of players involved on the special-teams units and they were shaky at times in the preseason. Things went smoothly in the kicking game against the Falcons, though. RS Eric Weems was kept in check, Robbie Gould made all three of his field-goal attempts and booted five touchbacks on kickoffs and new P Adam Podlesh is off to a fine start.

ORG Lance Louis — The Bears didn't give an update on Louis' sprained right ankle Monday and we won't get a better sense of his status until Wednesday's injury report is released. He had to leave Sunday's game in the second quarter and reportedly was wearing a walking boot on his right foot in the locker room after the game. It'll be a tough break for Louis if he has to miss time. He suffered an injury early last season and never regained the ORG job. Chris Spencer replaced Louis on Sunday, but Edwin Williams, who was inactive, is another option to step in.

FS Major Wright — Wright made his first career start Sunday, but recent addition Brandon Meriweather, who replaced Wright at times vs. Atlanta, is making a strong push for more reps. Meriweather has been with the team for about a week, but Wright's hold on the starting job appears to be tenuous.

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