BOURBONNAIS - Quarterback Jay Cutler and the rest of the offensive starters are expected to play at least into the second quarter Saturday night against the Raiders at Soldier Field.
That still leaves a lot of snaps for rookie quarterback Dan LeFevour and even some for Matt Gutierrez, who didn't join the team until Wednesday. Both got a lot of practice reps Thursday, the final padded practice before the Bears break camp following this morning's walk-through.
LeFevour, the sixth-round pick from Benet Academy and Central Michigan, has gotten increased practice reps ever since No. 2 quarterback Caleb Hanie suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason opener.
"Dan has gotten a lot better with the reps that he's had," coach Lovie Smith said. "He'll be our second guy in this week."
Gutierrez could play as much as a quarter after getting a crash course in Mike Martz's offense.
"He threw some good passes," Smith said after Thursday's practice. "There's a learning curve, and he has a lot to pick up as far as our offense is concerned. But he has a strong arm, good size, and he's a smart guy. He needs reps, but I'm very pleased with what our current guys have done."
LeFevour, a Downers Grove native, will have plenty of friends and family at Soldier Field on Saturday night when he takes over the offense from Cutler. This week's increased reps gave him additional time to prepare.
"It allows you to make mistakes and learn from them," he said. "Also to make some positive plays and see how it works. Whether the outcome was good or bad, I think I learned something every play, and you just have to keep doing that and keep your head up and stay confident and keep learning because your opportunity will come."
Happy and healthy: Tommie Harris missed numerous practices last season when his post-surgical knee bothered him off and on all year. But he had perfect attendance at training camp practices.
"That happens," Harris said. "When you're injured, you don't practice. I wasn't injured this off-season. I didn't go through any surgeries, so I practiced like I did before I got injured."
The Bears are hoping Harris recaptures the form that got him voted to the Pro Bowl from 2005-07.
"He's looked good in practice," GM Jerry Angelo said. "No reason to believe Tommie isn't going to have a very, very good season for us. We're excited about that. A healthy Tommie, a practicing Tommie, should be a very, very good football player."
Injury update: Quarterback Caleb Hanie (shoulder), safeties Craig Steltz (ankle) and Josh Bullocks (quad), long-snapper Pat Mannelly (shoulder) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (hamstring) all missed practice.