QB Carousel Back in Full Swing

Brian Griese has a sprained left shoulder and will be replaced in the starting lineup by Rex Grossman, but many believe that the injury is simply a convenient excuse. While Griese claims he'll be ready to play Sunday, head coach Lovie Smith made the switch under center anyway.

Bears quarterback Brian Griese, who started the past six games, said he'll be ready to play Sunday despite a sprained left shoulder that knocked him out of last week's game and kept him off the practice field on Wednesday. But head coach Lovie Smith said Rex Grossman, who was benched after three forgettable games at the start of the season, will start Sunday because he gives the Bears the best chance to win.

Grossman picked up the win in relief last week.

"I like the way he finished the game," Smith said. "I like the way he gave us a boost, So he'll start for us this week."

Grossman downplayed questions about the pressure that will come with re-entering the starting lineup for a 4-5 team that has precious little margin for error if it wants to return to the playoffs.

"It's not really that much pressure for me," Grossman said. "I didn't even know if I was going to play again. I'm just going to go out there and play like it's recess and just have fun. You never know if you're going to have this opportunity again to play with this team, so I'm excited about that."

If Grossman doesn't perform well, Sunday's start could be his last.

"Right now, when you're trying to come up [in the standings], it's about one game at a time and that's where we are," Smith said. "Rex is starting this weekend. I can't look into the future any more than that, and I'm not going to."

Grossman is also focused on the task at hand, but also the big picture.

"I'm trying to keep this job for the rest of the season," he said. "I think that's a given."

There's also the remainder of his career to consider for Grossman. He's an unrestricted free agent after this season and will be auditioning not only for his current team but the other 31 clubs in the NFL. Because of his uninspiring performance earlier in the season, Grossman said looking ahead to potential free-agent riches won't be a problem.

"I've probably missed the boat on the big one," he said, drawing laughs. "I'm just going to go have fun."

Grossman relieved Griese late in the second quarter of last Sunday's game and completed 7 of 14 passes for 142 yards, including the game-winning 59-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian with 3:11 remaining.

Griese said he would be capable of playing in Seattle this week.

"It's something I had on my right [throwing] shoulder earlier in my career that I played with," Griese said. "On my left shoulder, it's not a big deal really. I should be ready to play on Sunday."

Smith said he wasn't sure if Griese would be active Sunday or if Kyle Orton would be moved up on the depth chart to No. 2. Griese said he wanted to make a seventh straight start.

"I don't have any question in my mind that I will be ready if called upon on Sunday," he said. "That's not my decision to make. I'd like to continue to play, yeah. Obviously, we all think that we can play better and be in a better situation than we are now. I think there are some things that we can build on and I look forward to doing it."


QB Rex Grossman
Jose Sanchez/AP Images

Grossman has thrown two touchdown passes and six interceptions this season with a passer rating of 53.9 and is 1-2 in games he started and finished. Griese has nine TD passes, 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 77.1 and is 2-3 in games he started and finished.

Grossman helped the Bears to the Super Bowl last season but had an extremely uneven season, mixing outstanding performances with meltdowns. His slow start this season brought not only the benching but extensive criticism locally and nationally from the media and fans.

Sunday's start will be Grossman's first in eight weeks, and he said the inactivity was difficult but that he was able to derive some benefit during his forced exile.

"It's tough," he said. "It's like studying algebra. It's not fun. But you've just got to really understand the best you can what we're trying to get accomplished, what the defense does, and how our offense relates to what they do. It's hard work. But now you get a chance to know you're going to play."

Peterson not lobbying for carries despite Benson's continued struggles
A less patient man than Adrian Peterson might have blown a gasket a long time ago, sitting on the bench behind a starter whose lack of production has been an ongoing problem.

But the uncomplaining Peterson continues to do whatever he's asked and do it extremely well without rocking the boat. In addition to his exceptional special-teams play, where he's fourth on the team with nine tackles, Peterson is third on the club with 27 receptions – eight more than he had in his first five seasons. He's also averaging 4.4 yards on 30 carries, compared to starter Cedric Benson's 3.0-yard average on 178 attempts.

Earlier in the week, head coach Lovie Smith said, "We're not pleased with where our running game is right now," leading to speculation that Peterson would get a bigger portion of the rushing attempts. He's waiting, and hopefully not in vain.

"Every guy on the team wants to do more, whether it's the first-string quarterback to a receiver," the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Peterson said. "You want to express it. Sometimes you get an opportunity. Sometimes you have to wait. I haven't gotten it yet. I'm just standing in line to see what happens."

Because he's a better blocker than Benson, more aware in blitz pickup and a better pass catcher, Peterson plays a lot of third-down snaps in passing situations, but he's yet to get more than seven carries in a game this season. Including this season, Peterson has just 163 career carries and a 4.7-yard average.

Peterson's only NFL start was back in 2003, but he got 24 carries and picked up 120 yards against the 49ers on Nov. 13, 2005, when Thomas Jones was sidelined with an injury and Benson suffered a knee injury before halftime.

News & Notes

  • QB Rex Grossman, who led the Bears to a comeback victory in relief of injured Brian Griese last week, was tabbed as the starter for the first time since he was benched after Game 3 this season.
  • QB Brian Griese did not practice Wednesday but said he'd be able to play on Sunday, although it remains to be seen if he'll be active. Griese started the previous six games but didn't finish last week after suffering a sprained left shoulder.
  • QB Kyle Orton would move up one spot to No. 2 if Griese (sprained left shoulder) is not cleared to play. Orton has not taken a regular-season snap since the end of the 2005 season.
  • LB Brendon Ayanbadejo, a Pro Bowler last season, leads the Bears with 17 special-teams tackles and has also forced two fumbles, but his holding penalty last week nullified a 64-yard punt return by Devin Hester.
  • K Robbie Gould has missed one FG attempt in each of the past three games but is still 14-for-18 on the season. His misses were from 53, 40 and 39 yards. Gould only missed four kicks all of last season when he was 32-for-36 and went to the Pro Bowl.

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