The NFL announced Wednesday that the Chicago Bears will open the preseason by hosting the Denver Broncos the weekend of Aug. 9-12, meaning that fans at Soldier Field could see future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in a Denver uniform for the first time.
The NFL unveiled its preseason schedule for 2012, and while the actual dates haven't yet been locked in, the Bears face some interesting foes as they open with the Broncos at Soldier Field, followed by another home matchup against the Washington Redskins.
Manning will surely draw plenty of attention when his team faces the Bears. But Chicago features two former Broncos on its roster in quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall, who helped one another to Pro Bowl seasons with the club. Former Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie returns to Soldier Field as Manning's backup with the Broncos.
The following week could present the debut of yet another highly-touted quarterback when the Bears host the Redskins. Washington traded away picks to move into the second overall spot of the NFL draft later this month, and it's believed the club will take Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
Chicago's last two exhibition outings come on the road against the New York Giants, on Aug. 24 in a nationally televised game, and then the following Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. Dates for the first two exhibition games haven't yet been finalized, but will likely be announced later this month along with dates for the club's regular season contests.
The Bears and Redskins will square off in the preseason for the first time since 1976, while Chicago and Cleveland will close their respective preseason schedules against one another for the ninth year in a row.
The Bears' non-divisional schedule includes road games at Arizona, Dallas, Jacksonville, San Francisco and Tennessee, along with home contests against Seattle, Carolina, Houston, Indianapolis and St. Louis.