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Thursday Service Plays
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Las Vegas Insider-NFLX Week 3 (49ers/Bears)
The Bears announced on Monday that Kyle Orton would be the team's opening day starter against the Colts on September 7 and according to head coach Lovie Smith, tonight's game with the 49ers figures to be a dress rehearsal. Starters are expected to play into the third quarter on Thursday, as they will likely not play much in the team's final preseason game next Thursday at Cleveland. Orton, who is 12-6 in three seasons as a spot-starter, has been good enough (I guess?) thus far in the preseason to wrest the job from ex-starter Rex Grossman. Orton has gone 12-of-19 for 99 yards without a TD or INT in two games, while Grossman is 13-of-23 for 118 yards with a TD and an INT. However, the Bears have chosen Orton, who is 12-6 as a spot-starter in his career. With the Bears at 0-2 this preseason, I expect a solid effort from Chicago in this game. The RB situation in Chicago is also up for grabs, as Cedric Benson was abruptly released prior to training camp after his latest off-the-field incident. The 'battle' is between Rookie Matt Forte, holdovers Garrett Wolf and Adrian Peterson plus former-Lion Kevin Jones, if he ever recovers from a knee injury (is listed as probable tonight). While the Bears have announced their starter at QB, the 49ers have not yet done so. However, HC Nolan said Monday that QB JT O'Sullivan will start for the third straight game tonight. Alex Smith again will provide "middle relief" in the third quarter and Shaun Hill will be "the closer." The 29-year-old Sullivan has NEVER started a regular season NFL game and has hardly looked impressive in '08's first two games, going 13-of-25 for 225 yards with a TD and two INTs to date. This cannot be what the 49ers envisioned when they made Alex Smith the first player chosen in the 2005 draft. Smith's contract counts for more than $9.9 million against the cap in '08, while O'Sullivan was signed this past March for the minimum allowable salary (one-year deal counting for $491,000). The 49ers are off a 34-6 rout of the Packers last week but that score is somewhat deceiving as the Packers were just AWFUL. Green Bay gained just 182 yards (11 FDs) had three turnovers. Let's not forget San Fran's Week 1 performance at Oakland, when the 49ers had four turnovers (2 INTs and 2 fumbles) and were just 2-of-11 on third downs in an 18-6 loss. Everything points to the Bears in this one. Las Vegas Insider Chi Bears.