Grossman no longer a Groomsman

Rex Grossman learned Tuesday night that he would be the starting quarterback for the Bears against the Vikings this weekend. Grossman looks forward to the opportunty, according to Bear Report's Jason Klabacha, and hopes that it will be just the first of many, many pro starts to come...

The 23rd starting quarterback change under Coach Dick Jauron is likely to be his last, while on other hand the Bears hope Rex Grossman remains in the role for years to come.

When the Bears slim hopes for a postseason birth ended with their loss to the Packers, it was time to make the move. The plan is for Grossman to play the remaining three games on the schedule starting this weekend against Minnesota.

"Right now, that's what we intend to do," Jauron said. "This is a very good team he's going to get his first start against, so he's certainly got his work cut out for him."

Jauron told Grossman he would start during a phone call Tuesday night. The rookie hasn't taken a snap in a game since August and is obviously excited about the opportunity.

"It's going to be fun to be out there," Grossman said. "I haven't played in a while in a real game. I'm sure it's going to take me a little while to get comfortable, but I'm excited for the opportunity."

Grossman is as ready as a rookie can be from the standpoint of knowing the Bears offense. He's been working diligently since being drafted by the Bears in April. His only action so far has been in preseason, when he completed 28-of-56 for a team-high 287 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a passer rating of 56.2. He has been active but did not play five times this season.

There are things that the practice reps and preseason work will not prepare him for until he gets on the field.

Coaches and players often bring up the speed of the game from college to the pros as being the biggest adjustment.

"He (Grossman) really feels like he hasn't played in a real game since January of last year, his final collegiate game," said Bears quarterback coach Greg Olson. "Once he gets the butterflies out on Sunday hopefully he'll settle in and be the great player that we believe he will be."

Grossman will be going up against a defense with more interceptions (25) than any other unit in football. Meaning establishing the running game, which is something the Bears failed to do against Green Bay, will be even more critical than usual in order to keep the Vikings defense honest.

Still the Bears could end up passing the ball more than most would expect with a quarterback making his first start.

"It's not secret that Rex Grossman is one of the most accurate quarterbacks that we have here and maybe the most accurate quarterback here on the team right now and he was one of the most accurate passers coming out last season out of college," Olson said. "So obviously you might see us throw the ball a little bit more."

While Minnesota is an aggressive defense they have been burned in recent weeks and have a defense ranked 27th and 28 vs. the pass. After starting the season 6-0 they've dropped 5 of their last 7 decisions allowing 35.4 points per game in their loses.

Everyone in Soldier Field is expecting the Vikings to blitz Grossman until he proves he can handle the pressure. However he took to the lead role at the podium on Wednesday quite naturally and expects to do the same when Minnesota comes after him on Sunday.

"The biggest thing if we have enough guys to protect, it's easy," Grossman said confidently. "But if you're throwing hots all the time, I just need to be accurate and get the ball out quick. I've played against teams that blitz a lot. As long as we have enough guys to block them, I can throw deep. But if I have to throw hot, I can do that too. I've just got to get away from center quick and make a good read and get the ball out accurately."

It's unlikely things will come to Grossman as quickly as most hope, but any evaluation of his potential will begin Sunday.

"You don't base guys on potential, you base them on performance," Olson said. "So we're going to find out on Sunday obviously. But I do believe that he is ready right now, as ready as he can be as a rookie who has not had a whole lot of reps during the season. But he's always been cool under pressure and that was one of the things we liked about him when we drafted him, is that the guy has played in big games, the guy is a gambler, he's got a short-term memory, he doesn't get bothered by things, he's always managing to come back when bad things have happened to him."

His NFL entrance exam will begin on Sunday at noon.

Back-up Plan: With Rex Grossman being named the starter, Kordell Stewart is #2 this week, while Chris Chandler, who is questionable with a shoulder injury, will be the #3.

Injury Front: Along with Chandler, tackle Mike Gandy (shoulder) and Chris Villarrial (side) are both questionable. Villarrial did practice, but Gandy sat out Wednesday as did Keith Traylor, Mike Green and Corbin Lacina.

Traylor, Green and Lacina are not on the injury list and are expected to be able to play Sunday.

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