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updated: 12/21/2011 12:03 AM

Does it really matter who starts at QB for Bears?

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  • Quarterback Josh McCown could get more snaps in practice Wednesday as the Bears prepare for their visit to Green Bay on Christmas night.

      Quarterback Josh McCown could get more snaps in practice Wednesday as the Bears prepare for their visit to Green Bay on Christmas night.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but multiple sources are indicating that backup quarterback Josh McCown will get a chance in practice this week to unseat Caleb Hanie, who has started the past four games -- all losses.

That means McCown will get more than the handful of snaps the backup usually gets with the first team.

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McCown, who was 1-for-2 with an interception mopping up for Hanie on Sunday, did not play in 2010 and completed 1 pass in 2009. He was coaching a high school football team when the Bears signed him Nov. 23.

The McCown buzz began with a tweet from his sister, Amy Bolton, although McCown told ESPN.com that he had "no idea" if the coaching staff had indicated that he would start at Green Bay.

For those Bears fans clinging to the final shreds of playoff hope, there's this: The Packers are expected to be without three of their top four offensive tackles Sunday night at Lambeau Field.

Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga is not expected to play because of a sprained kneecap, and backup rookie tackle Derek Sherrod is out for the season after breaking both bones in his lower leg.

They both were injured in Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, when the Packers allowed 3 sacks in the final nine minutes.

The Packers hope to get left tackle Chad Clifton back soon, but it probably won't be this week. He hasn't played since Week 5 and still is recovering from back and hamstring injuries.

The Packers' only healthy tackle for the Bears game is Marshall Newhouse, who has had major problems in pass protection and would be overmatched against Julius Peppers, who picked up his 10th sack Sunday. Guard T.J. Lang is expected to play right tackle if Bulaga is out.

Right guard Josh Sitton and center Scott Wells are the only O-linemen in the same spot as they were on opening day.

Of course the Bears' O-line is in a similar situation. Only center Roberto Garza and left tackle J'Marcus Webb remain in the same position they were at on opening day, and Webb was awful vs. the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

For those who already have given up on the Bears, there's this: Aaron Rodgers is still the Packers' quarterback. The Bears will counter with Hanie or McCown or Nathan Enderle … or Todd Collins or Henry Burris or Jonathon Quinn.

I mean, does it really matter?

•All the criticism of general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith for failing to have a better option at quarterback than Caleb Hanie is a bit shortsighted.

No competent NFL quarterback with any intention of ever becoming a starter at some point in his career is going to come to Chicago to play behind Jay Cutler.

The Bears gave up a small fortune to acquire Cutler, so he's entrenched at the position, as he should be.

Before his freakish thumb injury, Cutler had missed one NFL game in five years.

Most quarterbacks willing to take that backup job are the professional clipboard holders who will be exposed as such as soon as they are asked to play for any significant length of time.

Given that situation, the Bears did the best they could when they put in a waiver claim for Kyle Orton, but he was awarded to the Chiefs since they had a worse record than the Bears at the time.

And, while we're on the subject of Orton, he will be a better-than-average starter in the league again, whether it's in Kansas City or somewhere else.

•Even if, like me, you're not a big fan of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, you have to admire the way the big lug strapped it up on a gimpy ankle and tried to gut it out in Monday night's 20-3 loss at San Francisco.

Roethlisberger played poorly, as he was quick to admit, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin still is being criticized for exposing an injured player to more serious physical damage.

But Roethlisberger wanted to play, and he wanted to stay on the field until the bitter end, even when the game was a lost cause.

That situation serves to re-emphasize the lack of quality backups in the league, especially for franchise-type players such as Roethlisberger and Cutler.

Clearly the Steelers felt they had a better chance to win with a hobbled Roethlisberger than a healthy Charlie Batch.

That's the way it is in the NFL. There aren't 32 quality starters in the league, and there certainly aren't 32 quality backups.

These guys don't grow on trees.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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