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The Bears Den: September 05, 2014 - Chicago Bears week 1 news and notes

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Bears defense remains bit of a mystery - Brad Biggs: Any new wrinkles Mel Tucker has to unveil remain under wraps, but he's smart enough to know he can't dial it up the same way he did last season.

Jordan Lynch thought he had a future on Bears practice squad - Scott Krinch: Although he didn't crack the roster, Lynch is grateful for the opportunity the Bears gave him [with Audio].

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Chicago Bears - Buffalo Bills

Conte cleared to play versus Bills - Larry Mayer: Practicing without restrictions Thursday, Chris Conte completed his concussion protocol and was cleared to play Sunday.

Conte knows it won't be easy with Bears fans - Bob LeGere: Chris Conte will be back on the field in Sunday's season opener, but he's not sure how he'll be received by fans at Soldier Field, who may have blamed him for more than his share of the defense's problems last season.

Staff confident in Mills against Bills' D-line - Michael C. Wright: Trestman implied Thursday there’s a chance the Bears could rotate in Michael Ola at RT if Mills shows he’s not in sufficient game shape to play four quarters.

[Video] View from the Moon - O-line will be put to the test.

Buffalo’s defensive line a sacks machine - Mark Potash: The Bears will face a Bills front four that was among the best in the NFL at rushing the passer last year.

Bears offense knows what to expect from Bills - Rich Campbell: Jim Schwartz is one of few defensive coaches who can say he bested a Bears' offense that soared at times during Marc Trestman's debut season.

Cutler has had his way with Jim Schwartz defenses - Moon Mullin: Outside of injury-decimated 2013, Cutler has gone 8-2 against Schwartz teams.

Bears brace for Bills' talented tandem - Not-Hub Arnold: As if stopping CJ Spiller wasn't enough, the Bears on Sunday must also deal with his backfield mate, Fred Jackson, who finished directly behind his teammate on the AFC's rushing leader list in 2013.

[Video] SportsTalk Live - How will Bears defense fare against Bills? [KAPCON: 5]

Game preview - Michael C. Wright and Mike Rodak: The Bears destroyed the Bills 40-7 the last time these teams faced off at Soldier Field, but this season features two vastly different clubs.

Game notes -  Dan Wiederer: Jared Allen ready to roll; EJ Manuel eager to benefit from Sammy Watkins’ playmaking ability; Robbie Gould comfortable working with Jeremy Cain.

[Video] - Tom Thayer and Larry Mayer preview the Bears 2014 season opener against the Bills.

[Video] - Dan Pompei's thoughts on Bears-Bills: Biggest concern heading into Week 1 is special teams.

Michael Spurlock stepping in for a Bears and NFL legend - Moon Mullin: Bears’ return game is still in a molten state but Spurlock is being given the chance to lock down the job.

From Columbia to Chicago, Jeffery and Gilmore set to reunite - Not-Hub Fishbain: Every day in Columbia, Alshon Jeffery and Stephon Gilmore lined up opposite one another. On Sunday, the two will surely get a few snaps lined up against one another again.

Bears-Bills brings together former Saints Bushrod, Marrone - Not-Hub Fishbain: Bills head coach Doug Marrone was the offensive line coach in New Orleans for Jermon Bushrod’s first two seasons with the Saints.

Roster analysis - Rich Campbell with the Bears' season-opening roster and depth chart.

[Video] ESPN - The NFL Live crew make their picks for Buffalo at Chicago.

Looking ahead to the Bears' 2014 season

Five make-or-break factors for Bears this season - Rich Campbell: It's a thin line between success and failure in the NFL. What are the the determining factors for the Bears in 2014?

Groh ready to lead talented WRs group - Larry Mayer: Wide receivers coach Mike Groh chats about his comfort entering his second season as a Bears coach and reveals which two players could make plays with their eyes closed.

Marshall, Jeffery can help Bears exploit defenses - Matt Bowen: Bears offense should produce at a high level again this season because of the size, talent and formation flexibility of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

Ratliff: Bears defense could be great - Moon Mullin: With Pro Bowl players at two D-line positions, both corners and a linebacker, Jeremiah Ratliff likes the potential of this defense.

A 9-7 record seems logical for Bears - Rick Telander: The Bears are a pretty good 44-36 since Jay Cutler arrived in 2009. That averages out to 9-7 per season, which is how I see them once more.

Flawed Bears have real shot at playoffs - Barry Rozner: Look at any NFL season and you will find seriously-flawed teams that reach the postseason, warts and all. The Bears could be one of those teams in 2014.

Bears will fall short of playoffs again - Mike North expects some big numbers on offense this year for the Bears, but he isn't sure if the defense and special teams will hold up. And he isn't convinced that Marc Trestman is head coaching material.

Bears have path to Super Bowl - Is-Hub Arkush: One team from the NFC is going to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona. Why can’t it be the Bears? Nobody’s perfect, and the best team(s) at the start of the season is(are) almost never the best team(s) at the end.

Four Downs - Dickerson and Greenberg discuss key issues regarding the Bears. Will Cutler will be an MVP candidate this season if he stays healthy?

Bears preview - ESPN.staff make their predictions for the Bears' 2014 season. Tribune staff picks.

When will your team's season end? - Will Leitch runs through week-by-week projections. Bearsss.

Is Cutler poised to have a breakout 2014?

Cutler's 2014: Rubber meets road - Jon Greenberg: A focused offseason of honing the details of the offense looks ready to pay off for the QB. Michael C. Wright: Cutler now has 'greater perspective'.

Jay Cutler looks ready to take the next step - David Haugh: Managing the play clock more efficiently is just the latest example of how Cutler, now 31 and heading into his ninth season, continues to evolve as an NFL QB above the shoulders.

Jay Cutler has money to earn - Adam L. Jahns: Cutler wants to reward those who have rewarded him, and to give the McCaskeys their money’s worth.

Michael Irvin: Jay Cutler was 'born to be MVP'' - Scott Krinch: It looks like Brandon Marshall's words have rubbed off on his mentor.

Inside Bears' most important office: The QBs room - Dan Wiederer: For Marc Trestman, this is where the blood of his team begins pumping, where the most significant momentum of the organization is created.


Team notes - Adam Hoge with everything you need to know Thursday from Halas Hall, including a significant reason why David Fales was left on the 53-man roster.

Team notes - Larry Mayer: Bears prep to face familiar opponent; Briggs' personal day; Sherrick McManis' importance to special teams; injury news.

Team notes - Larry Mayer: Carey to back up Forte in opener; Cutler still developing chemistry with Santonio Holmes; injury updates.

[Video] - Kyle Long answers three off-the-field questions for this week's edition of 3 And Out.

Average Bears ticket price up 4.7 percent - Jon Greenberg: The Bears are one of eight teams with an average ticket costing more than $100.

Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Packers - Lynch, Seahawks dominate Packers in season opener [with Video highlights].  Rob Demovsky: Rapid reaction ... Packers still not in the Seahawks' class ... Rodgers endures rough opener.

Bears Bengals doing good things - The Bengals made arguably their greatest move of the season this week, re-signing waived DT Devon Still to their practice squad Sunday to help him pay for his 4-year-old daughter's cancer treatments.