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 LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -The Chicago Bears settled one issue this week when they named Rex Grossman their starting quarterback. Another one still remains unclear.
Who will be his backup at Seattle on Sunday?
It could be Brian Griese, the man who replaced Grossman earlier this season. Or it could be Kyle Orton, the man who filled in for him in 2005 but hasn't played since.
Either way, coach Lovie Smith would not provide an answer on Friday.
Asked if he had decided on a backup, Smith said, ``No. They're getting better. We'll let that go all the way down to (game time).''
Benched after throwing six interceptions and just one touchdown in the first three games, Grossman got another chance at Oakland last week and helped the Bears beat the Raiders 17-6. He came in after Griese went down with a sprained left (non-throwing) shoulder and threw a go-ahead 59-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian late in the game, but there were also some cringe-worthy moments.
Grossman fumbled his first exchange with center Olin Kreutz, revisiting an old problem, and his numbers weren't great: 7-of-14 for 142 yards. Still, that was good enough to get his job back - for one week, at least - even though Griese appears healthy enough to play.
More jarring, though, is the possibility that Orton could be the backup.
Remember him?
As a rookie two years ago, Orton started the first 14 games after Grossman broke his ankle in the preseason, but he has been a forgotten man the past year-and-a-half. His last appearance was in the 2005 regular-season finale against Minnesota.
He was given no consideration in training camp or when the Bears benched Grossman in favor of the veteran Griese. But now, it is conceivable that Orton could see some snaps given the way the other two quarterbacks have played.
Grossman has completed 52 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and six interceptions. Griese has been slightly better, completing 62 percent while throwing nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
If Orton gets on the field, Smith said fans will see a better quarterback than the one who was thrust unexpectedly into the spotlight as a rookie two years ago.
``He's older,'' Smith said. ``He's been playing against our No. 1 defense throughout the year, so that has (helped).''
In 2005, his job was to hand the ball to Thomas Jones and not turn the ball over. There was nothing fancy or complicated.
There were few long passes. Then again, Orton was so wild that fans were clamoring for Grossman by the latter stages of that season. Of course, the inconsistent Grossman has heard his share of boos the past two years and wound up on the sideline after the Bears slipped to 1-2.
Now, he gets another chance.
That's something guard Ruben Brown would like.
The nine-time Pro Bowl selection made it clear he wants to remain with the Bears after having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder last week. A 13-year veteran, Brown underwent a 2 1/2-hour operation to repair a torn labrum and ligament damage but hopes to be ready for offseason workouts.
Whether the team will bring him back is another matter, considering Brown is on a one-year contract.
``If they'll have me, I don't think I'm going to be demanding any large contracts,'' Brown said. ``I think they have that in a shoebox somewhere. I want to be here. I would love to be here. Is that going to happen? That's up to the people upstairs that sign the deals.''
Brown started every game during last year's run to the Super Bowl, after missing three in 2005 with a chest injury and seven in 2004 because of neck and knee injuries. Although his shoulder started bothering him last season, Brown decided against having surgery in the offseason.
With the pain mounting, he finally decided he had enough following the 16-7 loss to Detroit on Oct. 28.
``We need to make a push right now,'' Brown said. ``I know there are a lot of other guys that are lot healthier right now than I am. I kind of felt like my strength and ability to get ready for the game was going down. Each week that I played kind of made it worse and worse to the point where we had to really think about what our options were.''
While Brown focuses on next season, cornerback Nathan Vasher continues to inch closer to a return after missing six games with a groin injury. Smith would not say if he'll play Sunday. But defensive tackle Tommie Harris should be ready after sitting out practice this week with a knee injury that has been bothering him for much of the season.

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