Playing Time Remains a Mystery

Lake Forest - For someone who's played just six quarters of football after missing 26 regular-season games in a row, Bears quarterback Rex Grossman doesn't appear to have much rust to knock off. But will he get a chance for a final tuneup before the postseason?

"He's way ahead of somebody who's played 1 1/2 games, but he's not where somebody who's played 15 games would be; he's probably somewhere in the middle," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "I think it's a credit to the mental approach that he's taken, the approach that he took when he was hurt. And before he got hurt, (he was) working in the off-season to really learn the offense as much as you can without doing it."

The fractured ankle Grossman suffered on Aug. 12 curtailed his playing time but not his learning experience. Mentally, he didn't fall behind while he was on the sideline for the better part of two seasons.

"(Because of) all the mental reps that he's gotten all season, sitting in on meetings, taking notes, paying attention and being prepared when he wasn't even out there, there wasn't much of a learning curve," Turner said. "He was rusty the first week, which is to be expected, but after that he looked much more confident."

Grossman doesn't believe he's in midseason form yet, but he's far enough along that he doesn't need to play the whole game Sunday to be ready for a divisional-round playoff game two weeks later.

"I went through all of training camp and I played a couple preseason games, then I got the chance to sit for a while and observe the offense," he said. "Now I'm getting the chance to play at the end of the season. I feel like I'm at about the third or fourth game in the regular season."

In fact, Coach Lovie Smith is hinting that Grossman might not even start against Minnesota.

"There's a chance Rex could play," Smith said. "There's a chance of a lot of things happening, but I'm excited about Rex being healthy and leading our team right now. We're going up there with all of our guys ready to go."

Kyle Orton took about half of the snaps in practice on Friday and if he doesn't start, he's expected to play the majority of the game.

Health Beat
While Mike Green was removed from the injury report, the Bears still have 14 players on the list.

DE Adewale Ogunleye is one of four players that were added to the report on Friday. He's questionable after tweaking a hamstring on Thursday.

Others that sat out practice on Friday were CB Jerry Azumah (hip), S Mike Brown (calf), TE John Gilmore (illness), RB Thomas Jones (hip), DT Ian Scott (hamstring), CB Charles Tillman (shoulder) and MLB Brian Urlacher (ill).

Gilmore and Jones are both new additions to the list and are probable, as is Urlacher. DT Tank Johnson was also added to the report with a hip injury and is probable.

RB Cedric Benson practice all week and could see the field for the first time since suffering an MCL sprain on Nov. 13. It will be a game time decision to see if his knee is ready to go. If not, Adrian Peterson will get the bulk of the carries.

On the Hot Seat
There are reports coming out of Minnesota that Mike Tice will be fired on Monday. He has a 32-34 career record as head coach of the Vikings and is in the last year of his contract.


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