In those days we had six preseason games. I played in every single one of them and prided myself on never missing a single play. It was a lot of work both mentally and physically to be ready to come in as a starter, which I did during that regular season. I had a job to do and I was ready to step in and perform. Nerves were never a problem. I was far too busy just learning what I needed to know to be concerned about any pre-game jitters I might have had.
I suspect that Kyle Orton is in a similar situation right now. A lot is resting on his shoulders and I'd guess he isn't sitting around fretting, he's no doubt preparing himself to do the best possible job for the team. He seems to me to be quite grounded and mature. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.
I do like what I've seen so far from Orton. He is imposing in stature and seems to have an innate self-confidence that should serve him well. Eventually, he could become one of the real forces offensively in the league. But that is down the road and not now. He needs time, and why Lovie Smith didn't put him in for most of the plays during the last pre season game is beyond me.
The party line was that it was to ‘protect the rookie from injury'. He didn't look that fragile to me, and was in desperate need of reps in a game type situation. As good as he might be, Kyle has to be out there to get the feel of the speed and demands of a real NFL contest.
While I'm not the biggest Jerry Angelo supporter, I do have to give the GM credit for bringing in some outstanding guys this off-season. Players like Fred Miller and Muhsin Muhammad are athletically gifted men of great character and great intelligence. These players will give veterans for Orton to fall back on when times get tough.
Offensively the Bears were at the bottom of the NFL heap last year and I'm sure it will be a matter of pride to exceed all the pundits' expectations for the upcoming season. Can they raise their level of play enough to succeed against some of the top NFL defenses? Ron Turner is pivotal here. Can he provide the creativity on offensive the Bears have lacked for so long? That remains to be seen.
Orton could fulfill his potential sooner rather than later if the offensive line gives him the time he needs to make the big plays.
If not, it could be an all too familiar story of poor execution, fans booing the offense and the defense trying to keep the team in the game only to see it slip away in the fourth quarter.
All in all, at this point in time, I'm hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69, including a Pro Bowl selection following the '63 season.