Everyone was looking their best at the Bears Care gala Saturday night at Soldier Field, a black-tie event that coming into this year had helped raise nearly $7 million in the fight against cancer.
But quarterback Kyle Orton looked particularly good in his tuxedo. If anyone is in top shape, it’s Orton as he prepares to embark on a competition for the starting job with Rex Grossman.
Orton stopped to chat and said he’s comfortable there is going to be a level playing field. It’s expected a decision on the starter will not be made until some time in the preseason after both quarterbacks have had turns in live action.
``It’s the most excited I’ve been going into a season,’’ Orton said. ``I’ve put in a lot of work in the offseason and I’m just really excited where my game is at. I’m throwing the football really well and I’m just excited.’’
There are plenty of new parts to assimilate on offense. The Bears potentially will have three changes on the offensive line, two new starting wide receivers and maybe a new running back. That’s some turnover for a quarterback to deal with.
``Maybe a little bit just timing wise,’’ Orton said when asked if it would affect his job. ``The guys have been there [in the offseason program]. The receivers have been there and I’m real excited about them. I think we’ve got a lot of talent and really upgraded at the position. I’m just excited because this is my fourth year going into the same system and any time you have that chance as a quarterback you start feeling more comfortable and playing better.’’
That’s an interesting take, that the Bears will be upgraded at receiver given the fact that Bernard Berrian, far and away their top receiver the last two seasons, departed via free agency.
Maybe it was a veiled swipe at Muhsin Muhammad, who made a habit of occasionally placing the quarterbacks under the bus when he was unhappy. Orton certainly took his turn being run over.
Mark Bradley, Devin Hester, Brandon Lloyd, Earl Bennett and Rashied Davis have a lot of work to do to make up for the loss of Berrian. It might not be a one-man job. Booker for Muhammad seems like a pretty good trade at this point. Booker has better wheels at this point and could blend into the locker room a little better.
As always, stay tuned.