The Bears know they must make the Redskins respect the run to keep Washington's blitz-happy defense out of the rookie quarterback's grill. The Bears also have to do a much better job containing Clinton Portis than they did last year, when he rushed for 171 yards.
Both teams start inexperienced quarterbacks and have shortcomings on offense, but both feature defenses that could be among the NFL's best.
"As (defensive tackle) Ted Washington used to say, 'As a defensive unit we have to outplay their defense,' " safety Mike Brown said. "That's a good way to go into this game because they get after it on that side of the ball. So it's not going to be easy for our offense to do some things. We've got to go out there and match it whatever they do. If they get an interception, we've got to get two. If they cause a fumble, we've got to cause two."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Redskins RB Clinton Portis against the Bears' front seven. Portis shredded the Bears for 171 yards last season. But that was the first game back for MLB Brian Urlacher after he missed three games with a strained hamstring.
Bears LDE Adewale Ogunleye vs. Redskins RT Jon Jansen. Ogunleye was playing well against the Redskins last season until he injured his ankle, which hobbled him the remainder of the season. Ogunleye, however, looks as if he's regained his 2003 form, when he led the AFC with 15 sacks.
Jerry Azumah (hip) is listed as probable, and he practiced all week. He said if he was on the field Sunday he would be prepared to play the entire game at cornerback and also return kickoffs.
The only other player on the injury report is quarterback Rex Grossman (ankle), who is listed as "out."
WASHINGTON GAME PLAN
The Redskins will likely test their improved downfield passing game with speedy new receivers Santana Moss and David Patten since Chicago cornerback Jerry Azumah has been bothered by a bad hip and since they expect the Bears to be keying on running back Clinton Portis, who racked up 171 yards on 36 carries against them last year.
With a rookie quarterback, Kyle Orton, facing the NFL's No. 3 defense of 2004, look for the Bears to try use the ground game, led by running back Thomas Jones, and screen passes to counteract the Redskins' expected torrent of blitzes.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Redskins RT Jon Jansen vs. Bears LDE Adewale Ogunleye. This is Jansen's first game since the 2003 finale since he missed last year with a torn Achilles' tendon. Jansen held Ogunleye, who had 15 sacks for Miami in 2003, sackless when the Redskins met the Dolphins that year. This is a matchup between Jansen's power and Ogunleye's speed.
Bears QB Kyle Orton vs. Redskins' defense. Washington assistant head coach Gregg Williams lives to confuse quarterbacks, especially rookies. Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning were a combined 21-for-45 for 244 yards and no touchdowns in consecutive games last season against Washington's third-ranked defense, last which intercepted near-rookies Carson Palmer and Ken Dorsey six times.
Redskins LDT Cornelius Griffin vs. Bears RG Terrence Metcalf. Griffin terrorized Chicago's Mike Gandy for 10 tackles and 2 sacks last year and showed he's primed for 2005 with big plays against the run on the first series of the final two preseason games. This will be just the eighth start of Metcalf's four-year career.
Ryan Clark's absence means that Matt Bowen, who played less than a quarter in the final three preseason games because of injuries, will likely share time at strong safety with newcomer Pierson Prioleau, who did start two years in assistant head coach Gregg Williams' scheme in Buffalo.
WR Taylor Jacobs' questionable status means the Redskins, who cut veterans Darnerien McCants and Kevin Dyson this summer, could be left with 5-foot-7 Antonio Brown (who dropped four passes in the preseason finale) as their only receiver behind Santana Moss, David Patten and James Thrash.