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Saturday, August 13, 2011
On Matt Forte and Soldier Field

By Kevin Seifert

The Detroit Lions kicked off the NFC North's preseason schedule Friday night, and the rest of division will play this evening. I plan to monitor all three games via on-demand technology and will post some thoughts, along with those from media members who were on site, early Sunday morning.

Two issues takes precedence Saturday night, and both are in Chicago.

Issue No. 1: Will tailback Matt Forte play against the Buffalo Bills?

As you know, Forte said last weekend that he might skip the preseason pending negotiations on a contract extension. He said he wouldn't make that decision without first meeting with team officials. Forte hasn't addressed this issue since, and if he had a meeting that led to the decision to play, no one has said so publicly.

In fact, team president Ted Phillips told ESPN 1000 this week: "I think you'll be seeing Matt Forte playing on Saturday."

I wouldn't be offended if the Bears gave Forte the preseason off regardless of the contract situation, but I'm guessing the Bears don't see it that way.

Issue No. 2: Will the playing surface at Soldier Field be, well, playable?

On the Bears' official web site, head groundskeeper Ken Mrock said that repairs are complete on the exposed seams in Soldier Field's grass playing surface, damage that caused the Aug. 5 Family Night practice to be canceled.

"The field's in good shape," Mrock said.

According to the Bears, "some seams were slightly visible ... [b]ut those areas were even with the rest of the ground."

I'm not at Soldier Field so I can't verify any of that. As of early Saturday, the field was covered by a tarp to protect it from a thunderstorm.