KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Bears' quarterback competition began in earnest in the second half of Saturday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, with Jim Miller replacing starter Shane Matthews while the rest of the No. 1 offense remained on the field.
Where the competition goes now will be closely watched in preparation for the Sept. 9 opener in Baltimore.
preseason with a 10-9 loss to the Chiefs. They controlled the ball for the first three quarters but ran only five plays in the fourth quarter.
Miller, playing for the first time since tearing an Achilles' tendon Nov. 12, missed on his first three throws. Then he completed three of his next four in the third quarter and guided the offense to two field goals in the first 16 minutes of the second half, both set up by punt returns by R.W. McQuarters. Miller completed 4-of-10 passes for 35 yards.
Coach Dick Jauron said he plans to stay with Matthews as the starter with three weeks remaining before the opener. "Shane is definitely our starter until somebody takes the job from him or he loses it," Jauron said.
But Miller could be given his one start of the preseason Saturday in Soldier Field against the Arizona Cardinals in the final exhibition game. Coaches had intended to give one start each to Matthews, Miller and Cade McNown this preseason, but McNown is out of the rotation and Matthews has started the first three games.
"I don't know if [starting] will happen," said Miller, whose debut was delayed by a strained hamstring suffered in training camp. "I do need to get in there. We'll see. I just hope to get a lot of playing time next week."
Matthews completed 10-of-18 passes for 94 yards in the first half as the offense kept certain options concealed.
"We're just not going to show a lot of things," Matthews said.
Miller, who was generally sharp in practices last week, showed the effects of missing the first two games as he missed his early throws in the second half.
"I felt a little rusty out there. I think you could tell that," Miller said.
Miller's best throw of the third quarter covered 18 yards to D'Wayne Bates and led to Paul Edinger's third field goal of the game, a 35-yarder early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears may have found replacements for veteran returner Glyn Milburn. McQuarters, who broke a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown last week, returned the first punt of the second half 38 yards. Jerry Azumah was pulled down after a 49-yard runback of the opening kickoff of the second half.
James Allen made his preseason debut, starting the game and gaining 13 yards in six carries in the first half. Allen also caught three passes for 37 yards.
"He ran great with the ball and he can catch it," Jauron said. "He's just a playmaker."
Said Allen: "I'll be 100 percent for Baltimore. I was decent, but I thought I could've made better decisions."