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Pre-Gamer: Falcons vs. Bears

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears in action against the New York Giants during a pre season game at New Meadowlands Stadium on August 22, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    Finally, Bears fans. It's football.

    It's real, live, meaningful, f'real, f'real football. After the lockout and concerns that this day would not come, it is here. We get to watch the Bears play at Soldier Field. Even if it's just at that one moment when Robbie Gould is kicking off the ball or as Devin Hester waits for the ball to descend into his outstretched arms, all is right with the world.

    Here's what to watch out for:

    Cutler on Display: This will be the first time Cutler takes a snap in a meaningful game since last season's debacle in the NFC Championship game. This is his first chance to prove his many doubters wrong, and show that he can lead the team.

    Tough test for offensive line
    : John Abraham had 13 sacks for the Falcons last season. That reshuffled, more-effective-through-the-preseason offensive line will face an immediate test. If they give up the sacks and field position along with it, the Bears will have a hard time scoring points.

    Knox at the Door: When Roy Williams was signed, Johnny Knox's starting spot was handed over. However, Knox will still have plenty of chances to show that he deserves the starting spot as Mike Martz rotates receivers.

    Oh, So This Is the Defense
    : During pre-season, the Bears defense did not do much, but that's not a surprise. Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli hide their best stuff until season starts, so the Bears attempts at controlling an explosive Atlanta offense will give us a much better idea if this is still a great defense.

    Safety shuffle: The Bears picked up Brandon Merriweather off the waiver wire to bulk up the safeties, and then signed him to the biggest contract at that position. Though he's not expected to start over Major Wright, the team didn't bring him in to be a sideline decoration. He'll still have plenty of playing time.

    Birthday boy: Back-up quarterback Caleb Hanie will turn 26 on Sunday. Be sure to sing to him.

    Injury report: Marion Barber and Corey Wootton are not expected to play. On the Falcons' side, center Todd McClure and defensive tackle Corey Peters are both out with knee injuries.

    Gametime weather
    : Expect a picturesque day at Soldier Field, as NBC Chicago weather predicts a high of 79 with a few clouds in the air.