Capital Gains

The Bears offense may not put up big numbers, but they are starting to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them by the defense.

In an amazing coincidence, Bears rookie quarterback Kyle Orton finished Sunday's game with the identical number of completions (16) and passing yards (117) and the same solid passer rating (84.9) that he had a week earlier against the Browns.

The big difference was in the outcome of the two games. In the 28-3 victory over the Vikings, Orton and the offense proved that they could capitalize on opportunities. The way the Bears' defense and special teams are playing, they're likely to get a lot more. Against the Vikings, the Bears' four TD drives covered 49, 3, 62 and 1 yards.

"I thought we really took advantage of the short field, and that was important because we do get great field position with our defense," Orton said. "It's tough to go 80 yards on a drive, I don't care what offense (it is). But when you get the ball at the 50-yard line, that's when you have to put points on the board. We did that, so I'm really happy about that."

After a conservative game plan against the Browns, the Bears talked all week about airing it out, stretching the field and opening things up. They did -- a little. On the first play of the game, Orton barely overthrew an open Muhsin Muhammad on a deep post. Halfway through the fourth quarter, safely ahead 21-3 and at midfield, Orton went deep to Muhammad again. This time, he was picked off by Minnesota's Corey Chavous at the Vikings' 15-yard line.

So, at the end of an efficient performance that included 2- and 3-yard TD passes to tight end Desmond Clark, Orton still didn't have a completion longer than 16 yards. The job is clearly Orton's, but for now, the job is to manage the game, not to win it.

"I think they trust me," Orton said. "I threw a pick, but it was in a situation to take a chance, so that's not too bad. The better I play, maybe the more opportunities I get to throw the ball. But trust-wise and putting me in a situation where they're going to say we can't throw the ball because we don't trust this guy to take care of the football, I'm not worried about that."

Ready or Not
Today marks the first day that fullbacks Bryan Johnson and Jason McKie along with wide receiver Airese Currie and cornerback Alfonso Marshall are eligible to practice with the team.

All four players have been on the physically unable to perform or non-football injury lists, which carry restrictions on practice regiments until after Week 6 of the season. The Bears have a three-week window to evaluate the progress of each player before having to make a decision on whether or not to put them on the 53-man roster or Injured Reserve.

The most likely candidate to be activated is Johnson. He came over in a trade from Washington a year ago and Marc Edwards is currently the only true fullback on the roster.

Trader Jerry?
Although there were a few minor trades around the league, GM Jerry Angelo stood pat at Tuesday's trade deadline. After possibly losing starting QB Brian Griese for the year with a knee injury, the Buccaneers acquired Tim Rattay from San Francisco in exchange for a draft pick. The Dolphins and Chargers swapped quarterbacks A.J. Feeley and Cleo Lemon, while the Vikings picked up guard Toniu Fonoti from San Diego.

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