Chicago Bears: Orlando Pace
2. Oct. 12, Bears at Atlanta, noon CT, FOX: The Falcons fell apart last season because of injuries and finished 4-12. With better health and a couple new pieces on defense, Atlanta figures to contend for the NFC South title in 2014. But the Georgia Dome is another place that has played tricks on the Bears in recent years. The Bears were poised to knock off the Falcons in 2009, but lost 21-14 after a series of costly mistakes that included: Jay Cutler throwing an interception in the red zone, Matt Forte fumbling on two straight runs from the one-yard line, and former offensive tackle Orlando Pace being whistled for a false start on 4th-and-1 from the Atlanta 5-yard line on the game’s final drive. The Bears also allowed the Falcons to escape with a 22-20 victory in the Georgia Dome in 2008 on a late botched coverage that led to a winning field goal as time expired.
4. Nov. 9, Bears at Green Bay, 7:30 p.m. CT, NBC: This all looks so familiar. The Bears, fresh off their bye week, travel to Lambeau Field for a nationally televised night game. Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes, it was last year when Shea McClellin knocked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers out of a Monday night game with a fractured collarbone as the Bears pulled out a 27-20 victory. Can the Bears do it again? Keep in mind the Packers will also be coming off a bye week when the Bears arrive in Green Bay, so it’s not as if the Bears are expected to be fresher. But having extra time to prepare for Rodgers and company is never a bad thing. In a scheduling twist, the Bears won’t see the Packers again after Week 9 unless the teams meet in the playoffs.
A: Even though many people feel Mays hurt his draft stock by staying an extra season at USC, most analysts have him pegged as a mid to late first-round pick. How can the Bears trade up into the first round? I simply don't see any player on the roster -- with the exception of Lance Briggs or Jay Cutler -- that has first-round trade value. Brian Urlacher? No. Devin Hester? No. Tommie Harris? No. A combination of all three? Maybe, but is it worth trading away your starting middle linebacker, wide receiver and defensive tackle to acquire a late first-round safety? I would tend to view that scenario as unlikely. But Steve, you're right about Mays, this kid can hit, and I would be very surprised if he's not an instant impact player in the NFL. Hopefully the Bears can find a Taylor Mays-type in the third round. We can all dream, can't we?
Q: I was thinking with Donte' Stallworth being reinstated and then being cut by the Cleveland Browns, do you think they Bears will think or even consider signing such a talented player? -- Matthew Garcia, Madison, Wis.
A: It's always risky when a player sits out an entire year, but Stallworth is still relatively young  and probably eager to show the league he can still play. In his prime, Stallworth was outstanding stretching the field, averaging 19.1 yards per reception in 2006. Remember, the Bears have gone to great lengths this offseason to assure everybody their receiving core is already adequate, but I don't believe that's true. This team needs to add a veteran wide receiver, but is Stallworth the right guy to add to the mix? There's little question Stallworth would play with a sense of urgency, which is good, but how much has he lost over the past season? I would certainly be interested to see Stallworth workout, and if he looks good, the Bears should give the idea some consideration. But I might be more inclined to pursue other free agent receiver options who would come without all that baggage.
Q: What is the chance of the Bears moving Brian Urlacher to safety to shore up the Bears top weakness from last year? -- Vince, Sherrills Ford, N.C.
A: Slim to none. Urlacher will be 32 years old next season, and has slowed down some over the past few years because of back and neck issues. I'm not saying Urlacher is washed up, but the Bears need him to play well at middle linebacker in 2010. If Lovie Smith wants to consider moving Charles Tillman to safety -- a move Smith mocked repeatedly over the years -- then so be it. But if you move Tillman, the Bears must find a cornerback to start opposite Zack Bowman. I've always been a fan of Corey Graham, but for whatever reason, the Bears don't seem to share my sentiments. D.J. Moore is a reach, and Nathan Vasher has done little to inspire confidence since the start of 2008. Translation: The Bears have major issues in the secondary, but Urlacher changing positions is not part of the solution.
Q: I know Orlando Pace really looked like he'd lost about 20 steps last season, but with Mike Martz coming in and running an offense that Pace is really familiar with, I think the Bears should at least entertain the idea of bringing him back for maybe one more year to be Chris Williams' backup. If Pace would agree to a minimum contract, I feel he could be a very beneficial player to help that inexperienced O-line understand what Mike Martz is looking for. -- Ken, Chicago
A: Ken, I just don't think Pace has anything left. I know that sounds harsh -- and in no way should that diminish his Hall of Fame caliber career -- but when it's over, it's over. The best scenario here would be for Pace to retire, so we can all celebrate his vast achievements, and stop speculating on whether or not he will be cut by the Bears. Pace is a class act, who never complained last season when he was phased out by the coaching staff. He will go down as one of the greatest tackles in NFL history, but I just don't see him being a part of next season's roster.
Q: Rod Marinelli? Seriously? The guy who is a top-rated defensive line coach? The guy who's never been a defensive coordinator? I guess if Lovie Smith is going down, he's going down his way. Shed some light on this hire, please. -- Brett, Indianapolis
A: I do not like Marinelli assuming the role of defensive coordinator, but who else were they going to hire? Perry Fewell was the only guy even considered for the job, and his surprise decision to head to the New York Giants left Smith with few options. Of course, this is partly Smith's fault because after all, the pool of available candidates was small due to the Bears' insistence on sticking with their defensive scheme. I agree, on the surface, Marinelli's promotion makes the Bears weaker at coordinator and weaker along the defensive line. But it's only February, so let's see how free agency and draft play out before we reach our final conclusions.
Adewale Ogunleye has officially been ruled out because of a lower leg fracture.
What will he do for an encore against new left tackle Chris Williams?
"[I've seen] very little [film of Williams], just more run cut ups that anything," Allen said Wednesday. "I haven't really got down to my pass rush breakdowns this week."
"Bottom line, you got to take it to them [young linemen]. You got to make a young guy get out of his comfort zone, and force him into situations he hasn't experienced yet."
Even though Allen is one of the most prolific pass rushers in the NFL, the Bears gave Pace little help during the 36-10 loss in the Metrodome. Will that philosophy change the second time around?
"I obviously appreciated it," Allen said of the Bears' lack of help for Pace. "We'll see how this one plays out. Hopefully, I get the same kind of treatment, get some more one-on-ones."
For the Bears' sake, let's hope he doesn't.
By JEFF DICKERSON
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Orlando Pace knew last week his days as the Bears starting left tackle were over. According to a league source, Pace wanted to play against the Packers, but was gently told "no" by the coaching staff, even though his groin injury was no longer an issue.
Despite practicing on Wednesday, Pace will be a back-up for the remainder of the season, as the Bears will stick with Chris Williams at left tackle and Kevin Shaffer at right tackle, according to the source.
The Chicago Tribune reported Pace ran with the second team during Wednesday's practice.
Williams' struggles versus Green Bay were well documented, but Shaffer is said to have performed well. The Bears would catch a big break if Shaffer can handle right tackle duties in 2010, since other areas of the offensive line are in need of major improvements.
Other Bears inactives include: Jarron Gilbert, D.J. Moore, Juaquin Iglesias, Craig Steltz, Matt Toeaina and Cato June.
Defensive end Gaines Adams is active after being sent to the bench last Sunday against the Rams.
For the Green Bay Packers, nose tackle Ryan Pickett is inactive.
According to a league source, Chris Williams will remain at left tackle while Kevin Shaffer will make his second straight start at right tackle.
Orlando Pace is listed as questionable with groin injury. Pace is improving and may dress in a backup role Sunday.
Tight end Desmond Clark will be active, according to a league source. He has missed the past three games because of a neck injury.
It doesn't look good for Devin Hester, who has missed the week of practice with a calf strain and is listed as questionable.
We'll check in later with the official injury report.
Desmond Clark (neck) was limited.
Rams running back Steven Jackson (back) did not practice down in St. Louis for a second consecutive day.
Desmond Clark and Tommie Harris were limited.
For the Rams: Steven Jackson, Jason Smith and Jason Brown did not practice, while James Laurinaitis and Richie Incognito were limited.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- "Sorry guys, I'm not speaking today," Bears left tackle Orlando Pace said Monday at Halas Hall.
A disappointing response from a player who should understand the importance of veterans stepping up and facing the music after a disastrous loss. Pace entered the NFL in 1997, and no doubt has experienced these types of defeats during his illustrious 13-year career. It would have been nice to get some insight from the future hall of famer, maybe some wisdom ... anything. Or perhaps a comment about Pace's atrocious play this season on the offensive line. That also would have been appreciated, and appropriate.
Luckily, the Bears do have certain veterans who make themselves available during tough times, like defensive tackle Anthony Adams.
"We just got our butts kicked, and it's time to go back to the drawing board," Adams said. "We're a gap defense, and we just kept getting out of our gaps. It seemed like every mistake we made, they capitalized on it."
"We all need to look in the mirror, and individually have to do our jobs a lot better. We can either make a run, or run away. I think we'll make a run."