Five Things to Watch Saturday

The NFC champions kick off their exhibition schedule against the Texans on Saturday night. The David Carr era is over in Houston as Matt Schaub takes over at quarterback. For the Bears, starters are expected to play about a quarter or so before giving way to reserves. BearReport.com is covering the game at Reliant Stadium and comes up with the top five things to look for in tonight's game.

1. Will Brian Urlacher and Tommie Harris even suit up tonight?
Urlacher was held out of drills with the proverbial "general soreness" three straight days in Bourbonnais, so there has been speculation in the media that he may not play at all this evening. Harris has been taking it very slow in training camp as he continues his comeback from last season's hamstring injury, meaning he could very well get the night off, as well. Head coach Lovie Smith runs perhaps the lightest camp in the entire NFL, focusing much more on keeping his players healthy for the regular season than banging them into game shape.

If both Urlacher and Harris are held out as expected, look for a lot of Jamar Williams at middle linebacker and newly-acquired Darwin Walker sliding over from nose tackle to play the three-technique position.

2. Is Mark Bradley pushing Rashied Davis for his role at slot receiver?
It's no secret that starters Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian are the most complete wideouts on the roster, but Bradley is finally healthy after a year and a half of injuries and has looked very good in training camp thus far. He has the speed to beat most any corner and the size to handle most any safety, so offensive coordinator Ron Turner is looking for ways to get him on the field more often. Davis carved out a nice little niche for himself as a slot receiver last season and made some big catches on third down, but Bradley has been lining up in the slot during camp the last few days instead of simply spelling either Muhammad or Berrian at flanker or split end.

Devin Hester and Garrett Wolfe could also be a part of the game plan this year from the slot, but having Muhammad, Berrian, and Bradley on the field at the same time might make Rex Grossman more dangerous in the passing game.

3. What is the rotation at defensive end going to look like?
According to last year's starting right end, Alex Brown, the competition for his old job is already over and Mark Anderson is the winner. Brown is a very well-rounded player and a better run defender at this point, but Anderson racked up 12 sacks as a pass-rush specialist his rookie season and has big-time potential written all over him. So instead of Brown lining up with Adewale Ogunleye on the other side and forming one of the top combos in the NFC, now the two of them are battling it out for a starting job at left end.

Anderson was playing as much as both Brown and Ogunleye down the stretch last season sharing time at right and left end, but it remains to be seen if he can truly be an every-down defender instead of simply pinning his ears back and tearing after the quarterback.

DEs Mark Anderson and Alex Brown (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

4. Can Adrian Peterson be the No. 2 tailback and a special-teams demon?
Brendon Ayanbadejo went to the Pro Bowl last season for his work on special teams and rightfully so, but Peterson has also been a standout on the coverage units for quite some time. With Thomas Jones now a New York Jet and Cedric Benson finally the starter in the backfield, Peterson will be given an opportunity to contribute on offense much more than in years past as a running back. Since Wolfe is just a rookie and missed a week of training camp with a strained hamstring, Peterson will be counted on even more to spell Benson for a series here and there.

There have been rumors afoot that the Bears will be on the lookout for a veteran tailback on the waiver wire once teams start to trim their rosters down to 53, but a strong preseason performance from Peterson could make that unnecessary.

5. Do Mike Brown and Adam Archuleta have any chemistry at safety?
Coach Smith will inevitably get Brown out of the game as soon as he can since he is once again coming back from injury, but remember he is making a position change – back to free safety from strong safety. Archuleta went from prized free agent acquisition to overpaid backup awfully fast in Washington, so it will be interesting to see if his skills have diminished or the Redskins simply didn't use him properly. Trading Chris Harris to Carolina during training camp is a strong indication that the organization likes what it sees out of Archuleta so far, but no live bullets have been fired yet.

Both Brown and Archuleta have flourished in this Cover 2 scheme before, however, never actually with each other.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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