A quarterback competition promises to
heat up the Chicago Bears' training camp, and coach Lovie Smith
wanted to make it clear there was no perceived favorite between Rex
Grossman and Kyle Orton.
"It's dead even," Smith said Tuesday as the Bears reported to
Olivet Nazarene University for a camp that kicks off with a first
"I think it will be a great competition between Rex and Kyle or
Kyle and Rex, however you want to say it. The guy who ends up
winning the position, we feel real good about him leading us where
we want to go."
So who gets the first snap with the first team on Wednesday?
"Practice is tomorrow at 3 (p.m.). See you there," Smith
Smith wouldn't set a date for deciding the starter, even if he
has one in mind. He said teams generally like to have their
starters play together for the third preseason game. The Bears
begin their preseason schedule Aug. 7
"As far as competition when it goes, I want the players to
think they have as many chances as they possibly can to prove they
deserve to be in a certain position," Smith added. "I just don't
think that's anything that no one else really needs to know right
One guy who isn't in the Bears' picture is a player who has
beaten them often - Brett Favre. Favre and the Green Bay Packers
are embroiled in a rift after he decided he wanted to play again
and not retire.
"Brett Favre is one of the all-time great players to play our
game for a long period of time," Smith said. "I assume he'll play
for the Packers this year. If not there, I assume somebody out
there, I don't who that is."
The Bears have plenty to sort out during training camp other
than the battle between Grossman, who led the team to the Super
Bowl two years ago but whose career has been characterized by
erratic play, and Orton, who started 15 games in 2005 and the final
three last season.
Chicago is revamping its offensive line and a lot is contingent
on getting first-round pick Chris Williams signed so he can learn
the left tackle spot that is so crucial to protecting the
With the departures of Ruben Brown and Fred Miller, John Tait
has moved to right tackle alongside Robert Garza. Terrence Metcalf,
Josh Beekman and veteran John St. Clair are all candidates for
playing time on the left side.
Williams is expected to be the starter and Smith said he thinks
the young tackle will sign soon.
"If you're a rookie and if you're just looking at what history
tell you, you need to be in camp that first day. You want to blend
in that first day, you don't want to come out and stick out as
being the only story that's happening that day," Smith said.
"I assume he'll be here and ready to play."
After the release of the Cedric Benson following two off-field
incidents, the Bears could turn to second-round pick Matt Forte as
their starting running back, but it could be recently signed Kevin
Jones, who's coming off a knee injury and will be brought along
With speedy Bernard Berrian now with the Vikings, the Bears
brought back Marty Booker and added Brandon Lloyd to a receiving
corps that will feature return star Devin Hester.
And Smith said he expects the Bears to play defense like they
did two years ago en route to winning the NFC. Tackle Tommy Harris
and linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, who form the core
of the defense, all have new deals since last season. Reports say
Urlacher agreed Monday to a one-year contract extension through
2012 that is worth $18 million. He is coming off minor neck surgery
in the offseason.
The Bears also need a healthy Nathan Vasher in the secondary. He
played only four games last season.