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MINNEAPOLIS--Brett Favre signed a $25 million, two-year contract when he joined the Vikings in August and owner Zygi Wilf came out last week and said his quarterback has exceeded expectations. But it will be up to the 40-yard-old Favre to decide if he returns in 2010 for a 20th season.

``I haven't even thought about it,'' Favre said before I pressed him for more in his conference call with Chicago media on Wednesday. ``How can I think about next year when we've got the Bears coming up this week? The only reason I came back was to hopefully lead this team to a championship. Guys have said that maybe in the past but I think people who know me and have been around me know that is the only reason. That's what was so disappointing about my last year [2007] in Green Bay is we got so close when no one gave us a shot to even be at that [NFC championship] game, and maybe including me going into the season.

``But as the season progressed I thought we've got a little magic here. So it was very disappointing, even though very rewarding, that we got to that point, whereas this year the expectation level was already high and rightfully so. I'm just trying to do everything I can just to get us there and hopefully play the way I've played and hopefully this team continues to play and work the way it has and we'll see what happens.''


BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The Bears will get to see two members of their lost draft class from 2005 this season, starting with Kyle Orton in 26 days when they travel to Denver for the Cutler Bowl in the third preseason game. With NBC's ``Sunday Night Football'' crew handling the game, it's sure to get plenty of hype in the coming weeks.

Orton was the lone remaining member of the 2005 class until he was traded with a bounty of draft picks for Cutler on April 2. Five of the six players from that draft remain in the league, but the Bears are scheduled to see only one of them, and that person probably has the date circled on the calendar. Running back Cedric Benson will face his former team in Week 7 when the Bears head to Cincinnati. Benson is locked in as the Bengals' starting running back after signing a $7 million, two-year contract in the offseason. Cincinnati signed him off the discard pile in Week 5 last year after injuries ravaged its backfield, and the former No. 4 overall pick was thrown into the mix immediately.

He finished with career highs in carries (214) and yards (747) in two-thirds of the season and without the benefit of much of a passing game as Carson Palmer was injured. Benson cemented his future in the Queen City by rushing for 355 yards on 84 attempts in the final three games. Granted, two of those contests were against the 28th-ranked run defense (Cleveland) and the 30th-ranked run defense (Kansas City).

"I'm sure they know they made a mistake [releasing me]," Benson told me on Monday for the National Football Post, "after the way I finished last season. But I'm not worried about them. It's in the past and I've moved on. I had a career-high in touches and yards in a little more than half a season, more than I ever had in Chicago. That tells you the story right there."

I've spent four weeks here analyzing some of the things I'll be looking when when the whistle blows at 3 p.m. Friday and the Bears get rolling with their first practice of the season. Now it's time to turn over some space to the trained eye of Tom Thayer, who lists his occupation on his IRS paperwork every April as a "football describer.''

Thayer, the color analyst for WBBM-780 AM, will be at training camp and will offer daily updates for the Bears' flagship station. Here is what Thayer offered:

"There are three things I will be looking at and one of them is the free agents, the newcomers, [Jay] Cutler, Pisa [Tinoisamoa], [Orlando] Pace, big Frank [Omiyale], [Kevin] Shaffer, [Josh] Bullocks, these guys that came in. I want to start looking at those guys and see if they really are what they are, if they're going to fit in, what they're going to do to the team and how they're changing it. Then, I have a key selection of veterans who have been here already who are on the roster who I really want to pay attention to to see if they re-emerge, if they're playing like they did last year, if they're not involved in the betterment of the football team the way they should be due to their position on the roster and with the team and all that. My guys here are [Nathan] Vasher, [Brian] Urlacher, Tommie [Harris], Kevin Jones, Wale [Ogunleye], Nick Roach.

"And then [Johnny] Knox, [Juaquin] Iglesias and D.J. Moore are some rookies I want to watch. I think Moore may have a place. He is one of the three guys of the rooks I am looking at who may need to come in and just provide interest. Just to see if they can help in any way. There is a specific group and positioning of players that I am interested in looking at first. Then I think if you are looking at a position specifically, I still have concerns about the safety position. I like Kevin Payne but there is a battle for all other interior defensive back positions. Payne is only going to be pushed by himself. He is a guy who has to stay healthy. You can go out there and Kevin Payne can show flashes of brilliance and then he can pop his head in there and come out, get dinged, and you're back to square one. My only issue with Kevin Payne is durability.''

We're entering what looks to be a pretty quiet time for the Bears. If the coaching staff and scouts have not returned from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., they will Saturday (the game will be televised at 6 p.m. on NFL Network). The next step in the offseason is the thorough organizational meetings that go over everything from top to bottom. This is where the coaches, scouts, and front office collaborate to shape the plans moving forward to free agency and the draft.

Four Down Territory is going to take a little bit of a break next week while we're in Tampa covering the Super Bowl, but we're going to monitor any Bears action that is going on. You can also track information on Twitter. If you're not already signed up, you can do so to get instant updates when we make them. It's free. Often times, we'll Twitter news as we're posting to the blog, delivering it to you on your mobile phone. You can also get updates sent directly to your IM. We don't expect a rash of updates soon, but as free agency and the draft approaches, we'll be active.

So, if you're interested, check out Our handle is cst_bears.

On to Four Down Territory.

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