Having played shoulder to shoulder alongside center Olin Kreutz for the past seven years, Bears ex-guard and current Kreutz replacement Roberto Garza has mixed emotions about Sunday's game at New Orleans.
"I want to see him do well," Garza said. "He was what the Chicago Bears stand for for many, many years and will always be a Chicago Bear.
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"So it will be strange to see him out there. We're going there to win, and he's trying to win. Seeing Kreutz in gold and that No. 50 has been odd."
The longtime teammates have texted occasionally since Kreutz left for the Big Easy, but there has been no trash talk.
There isn't much Kreutz doesn't know about how the Bears' defense operates, but that doesn't guarantee success for the Saints on Sunday.
"Obviously, he knows everything we're doing," Garza said. "There aren't many changes from last year. He'll be able to help them, but it comes down to us going out there and getting the job done.
"We still have to block people; we have to know who to block and go out there and get it done."
Changing of the guard:
With right guard Lance Louis out with a sprained ankle and questionable for Sunday, Chris Spencer practiced with the ones. Edwin Williams got some reps there as well.
Spencer filled in last week when Louis went out in the second quarter, even though he has played most of his career at center. Roberto Garza remained at his new center position, even though most of his career has been spent at right guard.
But Garza's move to center has been a rousing success so far. Quarterback Jay Cutler is comfortable with him, and as an 11-year veteran, Garza is more qualified than anyone to make the blocking calls for the entire line, the duty of the center.
"The most pleasing thing, and something that came into play with my decision, was the fact that Roberto had no mental errors, and he called a really good game," offensive line coach Mike Tice said. "In our system, the center makes all the calls. So he has to call a good game.
"I thought he directed traffic pretty well out there. We changed a couple things up last week in identification, and that happened early in the game, and he nailed it. At that point I felt like he was going to be OK because that gives you great confidence."
Gaining ground fast:
Free-agent safety Brandon Meriweather didn't join the Bears until Sept. 4, but he's making rapid progress and could see even more action this week than in the season opener, when he got valuable reps alternating with starting free safety Major Wright.
"Just looking at what he was able to do last week from coming in with just a few days of practice, we were pleased with his first time out," coach Lovie Smith said.
"He's been working overtime, trying to be more prepared for this week. The plan is to try to continue to get him more reps this week."
With strong safety Chris Harris out Wednesday with a hamstring injury, Meriweather got additional practice snaps.
"He was able to get more reps in practice, and that's what it's about, getting more and more comfortable in what we do, and hopefully we'll see even more improvement this week."
In addition to Chris Harris (hamstring) and Lance Louis (ankle), wide receiver Roy Williams (groin) missed practice Wednesday.
Running back Marion Barber (calf), cornerback Zack Bowman (hamstring) and linebacker Lance Briggs (knee) all were limited.
Wide receiver Sam Hurd (ankle) and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) both returned to full participation.
For the Saints, wide receiver Marques Colston (fractured collarbone), safety Roman Harper and kicker Garrett Hartley (hip) did not practice.
Wide receiver Lance Moore (groin) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (calf) were limited.
Defensive end Will Smith won't play because he's serving the second of a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.