Orton has Job Security

Lake Forest - Even four first-half interceptions couldn't unseat rookie quarterback Kyle Orton from the starting position.

"He's our quarterback," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "It's a long year. He battled, struggled; quite a few of us struggled. He needs to go through things like this. That's the life of a quarterback. There are going to be some ups, and there's going to be some downs, but he'll come back."

Orton wound up with five interceptions, but coaches said they never considered going to backup Jeff Blake. Clearly the Bears are willing to take a few lumps and suffer some growing pains while looking long range at the quarterback situation.

The last time a Bears quarterback was intercepted five times was Larry Rakestraw, on Sept. 22, 1968. Orton completed just 17 of 39 passes for 149 yards for a passer rating of 14.7, a week after posting a 103.3 mark against the Lions.

Orton, who admitted he played poorly, said he has been given assurances that he is the Bears' quarterback for the long haul and said he still felt as if he had the backing of his teammates. Because of that, Orton said he doesn't spend time worrying about being replaced by Blake.

"Whenever I'm on the field, I'm trying to score points and trying to move the offense," Orton said. "I think I'm the quarterback of this team. I don't have any fear of being pulled or looking over my shoulder. Lovie's already talked to me about that. He says I'm the guy and they're behind me. I think the offense is behind me and the defense.

"I didn't play well today, and he decided not to make a change, and I'm glad because I like to be out there."

Orton said he understands the inevitability of overcoming the rough times when you're a rookie quarterback in the NFL.

"It's one of those things that you've just got to fight through, and it's tough," he said. "You don't want to become too passive and just try not to throw interceptions and just not even give yourself a chance to win. I was still trying to make plays, and the result was a couple (more) picks."

The 23-year-old is trying to learn about life in the NFL, while also being a leader of an offense trying to establish an identity.

"That's the type of guy he is and that's what it is," Smith said. "He said he played bad that day and we're saying the same thing. He had a bad day. We have a good quarterback that had a bad day yesterday. Just like we have a good football team that had a bad day yesterday."

Because he only had nine snaps with the first team offense in the preseason, Orton has taken virtually every rep with the first team offense in practice since the start of the season. Even with the bye week, there are no plans to get additional reps for Blake.

"I've been on six different teams and every team I've been on the starter always gets the snaps, period," Blake said. "So that's on every team. That's never going to change."

It appears the only way the 14-year veteran will see action is if Orton gets hurt.

"Jeff will play when there's an injury," Smith said. "Kyle is our quarterback. He's going to get all of the reps. He's not looking over his shoulder. Against Cleveland he's going to play a lot better and it's going to be a bad distant memory for him."


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