LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -Kyle Orton slipped out a side door after practice and avoided the media rush, a slick move from a quarterback getting a second chance.
The Chicago Bears hope he's this elusive on Monday night.
Orton wasn't talking on Thursday, but he'll have a chance to make a statement when the Bears visit the Minnesota Vikings now that his two-year wait to play is about to end.
``He's excited as he should be,'' center Olin Kreutz said. ``You don't get many chances in the NFL. You have to take advantage of it.''
The last time Orton was the Chicago Bears' starting quarterback, fans couldn't wait for Rex Grossman to return from a broken ankle. Now, he's getting another chance because Grossman is expected to miss the rest of the season with a sprained left knee.
He's had two years to study, to absorb the offense. Now, he gets a chance to show what he learned. And Vikings coach Brad Childress seemed a bit nervous, even though Orton completed just 51.6 percent of his passes and had more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (nine) in 2005.
``I'd equate him to a guy like Tony Romo, who sat in the back of the meeting room forever and was a sponge,'' Childress said. ``Only this guy was able to get in for a full year and operate that offense, and then sit back here for a couple of years. I imagine he knows where all the bones are buried, from who's the first read to who's the last read.''
Orton hasn't played since the regular-season finale at Minnesota two years ago, when he started in a 34-10 loss. The Bears had already clinched the division title and Orton was shaky in that game.
He went 6-for-14 with 59 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions before giving way to Jeff Blake and has served mainly as a third-string quarterback since then. Now, instead of running opponents' plays in practice, Orton is at the controls again.
And teammates and coaches insist he bears little resemblance to the jittery rookie whose main duties two years ago were to hand the ball off and not turn it over after being thrust into the starting role.
``He has prepared every week like he is a starter, which is hard to do,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. ``He was obviously frustrated, he's made that known, and it was obvious.''
A fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft, the Bears had Orton pegged as the No. 3 quarterback behind Grossman and Chad Hutchinson that year, but the plan crumbled in the preseason. Grossman suffered a broken ankle, Hutchinson got cut during the preseason, and suddenly, Orton was the starter.
The Bears went 10-5 with him, but they had to scale back their offense. Turner insisted that no longer is the case.
``We won't think twice about, 'Well, we want to call this but we can't,''' Turner said. ``Maybe his rookie year, we did do that. Right now, if we think it's good and we want to call it, we're going to call it.''
When coach Lovie Smith selected Orton as the starter over veteran Brian Griese this week, many viewed it as a sign that the Bears (5-8) were looking toward the future even though they still have a slight mathematical shot at the playoffs. Smith insisted Orton gives the Bears the best chance to win and isn't ready to concede the postseason.
In fact, he sounded like he might use cornerback Nathan Vasher against the Vikings even though the 2005 Pro Bowl pick indicated he will probably miss his 11th consecutive game with a groin injury.
``We're not completely out of (the playoffs),'' Smith said. ``That's not a true statement to start off with. As far as any of that type of talk, we're playing Minnesota. Big game for us. We need to get a win. It's simple as that.''
Vasher, who's been practicing on a limited basis, said he hopes to play again this season.
``One day, I might wake up and feel great and go out there and get two, three picks in a game,'' he said. ``That would be a great end to a season.''
The remaining games ``mean a lot to me,'' and he thinks playing would be more beneficial than shutting things down.
``I'm going to try to close this thing out right,'' Vasher said.

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