Kickoff: Sunday, 3:15 CT
Television: FOX – Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
Series: 10th meeting. Bears lead series, 5-4 and have won four in a row, but they have played the Chargers just once in this millennium, winning 20-7 at Soldier Field in 2003.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman should be a major factor if San Diego can contain RB Cedric Benson. On passing downs, Merriman will move around and pressure the outside of the Bears' line, which features LT John Tait coming off offseason ankle surgery and 34-year-old RT Fred Miller. That's a dangerous recipe for the Bears, who want QB Rex Grossman to avoid throwing off his back foot – when he produces most of his turnovers. ... Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson skipped the entire exhibition schedule, but he doesn't need much to get up to speed. The Bears are counting on DTs Tommie Harris – coming off a torn hamstring last season – and Dusty Dvoracek to clog the interior. Keep in mind that Chargers linebackers coach Ron Rivera is the Bears' former defensive coordinator, so he can provide plenty of insight into Chicago's schemes.
Bears: Harris will play, but not his normal amount of snaps; TE Greg Olsen (sprained left knee) is not expected to play.
Chargers: WR Eric Parker (toe) is out for the first month of the season.
In his seven best games last season, Grossman threw 18 TDs and just one INT; in his five worst, he threw one TD and 16 INTs. ... Norv Turner is attempting to become the fourth consecutive Chargers head coach to win his first game with the team.
Bears: TE Greg Olsen returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday but is still not expected to play Sunday. ... DT Dusty Dvoracek will start at nose ahead of veteran Darwin Walker, who was acquired in a training-camp trade and signed a five-year, $25 million contract shortly afterwards. ... DT Tommie Harris is expected to start at the three-technique but might only play about half the snaps as he comes back from last season's torn hamstring. ... DE Mark Anderson starts ahead of Alex Brown on the right side after getting 12 sacks in a situational role last season as a rookie. ... DE Alex Brown is expected to take snaps on the right and left sides Sunday and could play almost as many snaps as the starters in the Bears' rotation.
Chargers: DE Igor Olshansky continues to make progress; he was battling a groin strain. He's a full go for Sunday. ... C Cory Withrow (foot) was able to work on Thursday. ... LB Anthony Waters was absent because of a death in his family. He will return to work on Friday. ... Rookie S Eric Weddle didn't quite eclipse Clinton Hart for the free safety job, but he will see plenty of action in the dime package. ... RB Darren Sproles, not 2006 opening-day returner Eric Parker, will handle the punts. ... WR Kassim Osgood, a special teams Pro Bowler, is matched against the speedy Devin Hester on the Bears' return unit. That is a key matchup. ... LT Marcus McNeill was bothered earlier in the week with an illness, but he continues to get his work. He'll be fine Sunday.
Chargers 20, Bears 19.
Snapshot: Bears vs. Chargers
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