The League

Desmond Bieler
Occasional Blogger, Constant Blowhard

Desmond Bieler

An assistant news editor at The Washington Post

Chicago at Indianapolis, Week One

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Sunday, 8:15 p.m.

Wasn't it nice of the NFL and NBC to schedule this as the Sunday night game? That gives Peyton Manning just a little bit of extra time to recover from offseason knee surgery. It also gives Chicago a little bit of extra time to wonder what it's going to get from its own quarterbacking position this year.

Manning had an infected bursa sac removed from his left knee before training camp and has hardly been seen since, raising the specter of the unthinkable, unutterable horror that would be the Jim Sorgi Era. But Manning didn't start 160 straight games by letting silly things like knee surgeries keep him out of the huddle, so Indianapolis expects him to trot out and inaugurate its brand-new field, Lucas Oil Stadium. The Bears are the inaugural opponent, which makes Colts fans happy, as they bring back memories of Super Bowl XLI, when Indy stomped Chicago, 41-0. The Bears quarterback that day was Rex Grossman, who didn't play well, just as he was much of last season, when he didn't play well, either. Here's hoping Grossman can hold a clipboard well, because the Bears might have given up on him. Actually, given that the Bears handed the starting quarterback job to Kyle "Game Manager" Orton, they have definitely given up on Grossman.

Manning doesn't just have his own health to worry about; that of his offensive line is a concern, too. Most significantly, center Jeff Saturday, who plays a vital role in the team's no-huddle offense, is out for several weeks with a knee injury. He'll likely be replaced by a rookie, Jamey Richard, while the team figures out who will fill in for left guard Ryan Lilja (yet another knee injury). In all, three rookies could see major playing time on the Colts' offensive line this season, which means Manning has to be more worried bout sacks than sacs.

The Bears, with their own offensive line health problems, just traded a sixth-round pick to the Buccaneers for a left guard, Dan Buenning. But they are still thin at the tackle spots, their only consolation being that Indianapolis's premier pass rusher, Dwight Freeney might not be 100 percent himself after badly hurting his left foot last November. Yeesh, so may injuries! At least Chicago's star kick returner, Devin Hester, appears to be at full strength. The team may need multiple scores from him if it wants to keep up with Manning's Colts.

By Desmond Bieler  |  September 4, 2008; 2:26 PM ET  | Category:  Week 1 Previews Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Unfortunately for da bears, it's easier to watch the post-game highlight reel to see Devin's exploits than it is to sit through their struggling offensive efforts.

Posted by: Henry | September 4, 2008 4:37 PM

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