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What You Need to Know: Bears Pre-Season Opener

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Matt Forte runs to the field for a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on August 6, 2011 in Bourbonnais.

    Despite a few instances of bad luck, the Bears will kick off pre-season on Saturday night at Soldier Field against the Bills, a team they beat 22-19 last year.

    Will Matt Forte play? The running back has asked for a new contract, but hasn't gotten it. There has been talk of him not playing in pre-season games as a negotiating ploy, though Lovie Smith has dismissed that. Even if it's just for a few snaps, will the running back show up?

    How will the wideouts rotate in? The Bears have gone from not having enough targets for Jay Cutler to having too many. With Roy Williams, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Dane Sanzenbacher, Sam Hurd and Andy Fantuz all wanting to start, Mike Martz will have to perform a juggling act to make sure all the players get chances to show off what they can do.

    Will the offensive line hold?
    Last season, the Bears line was not good, to put it mildly. The revamped line is younger and bigger, but will they be better at keeping Jay Cutler upright?

    What shape will Soldier Field be in?
    Just a week ago, Lovie Smith moved Family Fest from Soldier Field because the field was in conditions he deemed unsafe. How much better can the field be by now? Will the Bears continue to stubbornly hold onto the idea that natural grass is better than field turf?

    Which unexpected players will shine?
    Coaches view pre-season games as another practice. For players still scratching for spots on the team, this is a chance to prove they deserve to be on the team. Watch the entire game to see which players handle the pressure well.

    The one thing not to watch is the final score. Because these are basically extended practices, the coaches will be much more concerned about the product on the field than they will be about who wins the game.