Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Posted: 5:26 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
Lovie Smith gets credit for keeping a sense of perspective in place for his players. Every game of an NFL season is a big deal, but Smith also knows how to parcel out the weight of any particular game.

Like this one coming up against the Atlanta Falcons. First games are sometimes viewed as season direction-indicators, team-definers. And they are huge games. Sort of. Depending on how the Bears do.

The years weve won, Ive put a lot into it. Im pumped up about it, Smith joked. The years we havent, then its not thats important.

But seriously, folks

It is one game and no more than that, Smith said. I dont think it counts any more but it does give you an idea of where you are, because you really dont know. No team really knows.

Smith has had some practice with assigning value to a first-game win or loss. From 2005-2011, only in 2006 (Green Bay) and 2010 (Detroit) did the Bears open against a team not coming off a playoff season or beginning one that would culminate in reaching the playoffs.

Working in the Bears favor is that the Falcons have not won in Soldier Field since 1983. Jay Cutler was four months old then. It was, coincidentally, the opening game of that season.

Smith insisted you really cant think ahead. Who do we play the second game anyway?

 

No answer. Thats what I thought, he said.

Whoever it is, thats a long time away.

That would be called focus.

Capn Crunch

Roberto Garza is replacing Olin Kreutz as the Bears starting center. He also is replacing Kreutz in the role of co-captain, along with Cutler, of the offense. Given that Garza is the clear head of the young offensive line, this is an obvious pick.
Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher are the returning defensive captains and long snapper Patrick Mannelly represents special teams.
He said what?

Matt Forte said Wednesday that he did not think GM Jerry Angelo lied about the desire to get something worked out before the season. But in Fortes mind, Angelo was being less than accurate in his portrayal of negotiations breaking off.

Angelo said that the decision to suspend contract negotiations with Forte was a mutual understanding; the two sides obviously had solidly different basic negotiating assumption.

He said that? Forte said. I didnt say that. I guess it wasnt mutual. But that was his decision. I cant really decide if we continue to talk or not. Hes the one we walk to, so the doors always open on my end.

Sick bay

Running back Marion Barber, bothered by a calf injury suffered in the preseason game at Tennessee, did not practice for the second day this week, raising concerns about his readiness for Atlanta.

Nose tackle Anthony Adams (calf), wideout Sam Hurd (ankle) and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) were limited in practice. Woottons return to practice is a good sign for a defense that needs the edge rushing he was demonstrating in camp.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.