Saints come marching in

Lake Forest - The preseason doesn't mean a lot to many people, but the third preseason game is much like a dress rehearsal for the regular season.

In other words, expect to see starters play into the third quarter at Soldier Field when the Bears host the Saints today at Soldier Field at 7:30 p.m.

"We as a whole, as a staff, what we normally do is use this game as really the warm up for the season," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We'd like to see our starters come back after halftime and let them get used to doing that, which is hard sometimes. So that's how we'll play the guys. Our starters will play into the third quarter and we'll kind of see what we have from there.

"You won't see as many of the down-the-line guys this week as you have in the past."

In other words, the coaches know who's going to make the team.

The Bears are 2-0 this preseason and have just one game left against Cleveland on Sept. 3, before the regular season opener against Detroit on Sept. 12.

Traditionally, starters don't see much time in the final preseason game.

The Bears will need to get down to a 65-man roster with the NFL's mandatory cut-down by Tuesday. Each NFL team must be down to 53 players by 3 p.m. on Sept. 5.

One player who has impressed coaches is rookie defensive tackle Tommie Harris, the team's first-round pick. The former Oklahoma standout will start ahead of Alfonso Boone, next to veteran Bryan Robinson, against the Saints.

"I just think he's really making progress," Smith said. "He's done that all along and it's hard to keep a guy like him off the field. We drafted him early; that's the guy we wanted in the draft and he hasn't disappointed us at all."

The Bears forced five turnovers in last week's 20-13 victory over San Francisco and have caused seven turnovers overall. The Bears have yet to turn the ball over this preseason. Rookie cornerback Nathan Vasher and defensive end Claude Harriott both intercepted passes in the win over the 49ers.

"We've been pretty solid defensively," Bears free safety Mike Brown said. "We definitely need to get better and there's some things we can get better at. But just with the new stuff and the new schemes and just overall I give ourselves a B-minus as far as (learning) the new stuff and playing well with it."

New Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who was traded for receiver Marty Booker last week, won't play. Ogunleye, who led the AFC with 15 sacks last season, is likely to make his debut in the preseason-season finale.

New Orleans at Bears
* When: 7:30 p.m. today.
* TV/Radio: WCIU-TV (Ch. 26)/WBBM-AM (780).

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