Orton Gets his Chance

Lake Forest - Heading to training camp, the Bears would have likely played Kyle Orton for the majority of the preseason finale. But in a strange turn of events over the past two plus weeks, Orton will start the game and only play a handful of series.

When the Bears host the Cleveland Browns in Thursday's match-up with the Cleveland Browns, Orton will be the third quarterback to start in the last four games. The Bears hope the third time is the charm when it comes to Kyle Orton.

Orton took first-string reps throughout Sunday's practice and appears to be the frontrunner to open the season as the team's starting quarterback.

"Kyle Orton has played well every time he's had an opportunity to play, so we're excited about what he can do," Smith said. "We'll play him a little bit this week and really get ready for the Redskins from there."

Chad Hutchinson's performance against the Buffalo Bills may well be the final straw in his career with the Bears. After throwing two interceptions and connecting on just 3-of-14 passes for 33 yards, he finished the game with 0.0-passer rating.

Neither the Bears nor the Browns are expected to play their starters for more than a quarter on Thursday, which leaves Orton with only a handful of series to work with the first-string offense.

"I've had a lot of reps throughout preseason and not all of them came with the first team but for a young quarterback any reps a good rep and as I progress I'll get plenty of reps with the ones by Week One," Orton said.

The six-foot-4, 223-pounder sees the opportunity to go against the Bears' defense in practice as an opportunity to face ‘the best defense in the league.'

"I've had a lot of game experience, just not against first-team defenses but with a great defense out on the practice field every single day," Orton said.

Orton has completed 64.3 percent of his passes in the preseason, while averaging 9.7 yards per attempt. His passer rating of 92.1 is more than 35 points higher than any other quarterback on the roster.

The fourth round pick has the opportunity to be the first rookie quarterback to start the season since at least 1965.

At this point the veteran leaders on offense are trying to rally around the Orton.

The Bears have started at least three quarterbacks in six of the last seven seasons, which means center Olin Kreutz has snapped to a number of different players.

"You don't got to tell me," Kreutz said when asked about the number of quarterbacks he's played with since coming to Chicago in 1998.

Muhsin Muhammad has been able to average 75 receptions, 1,004 yards and six touchdowns over the past seven seasons despite working with seven different starting quarterbacks, many of whom were nothing more than journeyman.

"I can tell you this much that as much as I've changed quarterbacks throughout my career that I'm not going to change the way I play," Muhammad said. "(Orton) can count on me being there to make plays and we've got other guys on this team that can make plays and we'll rally around him."

Hutchinson appears to be in danger of being cut, as Jeff Blake and Kurt Kittner will move up to second and third on the depth chart for the preseason finale.

"As of now he's not in the rotation," Smith said. "We want to take a look at the other guys. We've seen (Hutchinson) all through training camp. We really want to get a look at the other guys."

Blake will get the bulk of the action, while Kittner will get one last chance to prove to the coaching staff that he can be the third quarterback with his knowledge of Ron Turner's offense.

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