Former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton could wind up starting for the Chiefs against his former team Sunday at Soldier Field.
Although Orton has been with Kansas City less than a week since he was claimed off waivers after being cut by Denver, he could be thrown into the fray.
Chiefs coach Todd Haley, who was the Bears' receivers coach from 2001-03, says he will go with the player who gives his team the best chance to win. That can't be current starter Tyler Palko. The Chiefs have scored 12 points and zero touchdowns in Palko's two starts, during which he's thrown six interceptions and no TD passes for a passer rating of 47.5.
Orton could not be expected to have command of the full playbook with so little preparation time, but he showed back in 2005 as a Bears rookie how quickly he could manage a game with a scaled-down game plan. He went 10-5 as a starter after No. 1 quarterback Rex Grossman was injured.
"I would think it would be pretty condensed," Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said of a Kansas City game plan with Orton running the show. "It's hard enough to just get (acclimated) from another team. And obviously the quarterback, with the checks, and everyone runs a different type of an offense, I think it would be pretty hard. I'm sure they will make it easy for him."
The Bears will do the same with their quarterback, Caleb Hanie, who suffered through a three-interception first half last week in his first NFL start but was more effective as the game progressed.
"At times, we did do some good things offensively," coach Lovie Smith said. "Caleb, that's normally how you would expect a guy to start off when he hasn't had a lot of time. But once he got going, especially in the second half, he made a lot of plays, and you could see him getting more and more comfortable in the pocket leading our offense."
Hanie shouldn't have to do much more than be a game manager in the final five games to get the 7-4 Bears into the playoffs. Chicago currently holds the NFC's No. 1 wild-card spot, and its final five opponents have a combined record of 27-28. The 7-4 Falcons, who hold the No. 2 wild-card spot, play teams with a cumulative 26-29 record, but the Bears defeated them in head-to-head play. The next two wild-card contenders, the 7-4 Lions and 6-5 Giants, both have much tougher schedules down the stretch.
"I really like that, that we control our destiny," Smith said. "(But) we've got to take care of business. There's no room for error."
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