BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) -Kyle Orton will start at quarterback for the Chicago Bears behind an injury-riddled offensive line in Thursday's preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Coach Lovie Smith announced his decision after Tuesday night's practice, but cautioned against calling Orton the leader in his competition with Rex Grossman to start on opening day.
``Again, don't look into any of these decisions we've made right now,'' Smith said. ``It's just a starting spot. There's no rhyme or reason why we're doing this in this direction. It's the way I want to go right now.''
Grossman will take the same number of snaps with the first string as Orton, Smith said.
When the Bears play the second preseason game in Seattle Aug. 16, Grossman will start, with he and Orton getting the same number of first-string snaps again.
``We want both guys to get an equal opportunity and that's what were going to do,'' Smith said.
Grossman and Orton have alternated days working with the first team throughout training camp. They flipped a coin to see who would go first with the first team before minicamp and training camp.
Coaches made the decision this time.
``No coin flip, we didn't want to do that again - no rock, paper, scissors,'' said offensive coordinator Ron Turner.
Orton, who started the final three games last season, realizes a lot is at stake, considering it's only preseason.
``I'm excited. I wanted to get out there and start out the preseason,'' he said. ``It's (the battle) certainly intensified in the preseason games. There's a lot riding on it. But the reality remains it's just one more chance to get better.''
Orton and Grossman will work with an offensive line that could include only two projected opening day starters at their positions - right tackle John Tait and center Olin Kreutz.
Left guard Terrence Metcalf has a sprained right knee and will have arthroscopic surgery. It's expected he'll miss two to four weeks.
His replacement in practice has been second-year player Josh Beekman, but Smith said it's possible Anthony Oakley could start at right guard, with regular starting right guard Roberto Garza moving over to left guard.

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