Updated Aug. 13, 2011 at 6:35 p.m.
By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) — Heavy rain and thunderstorms are not exactly what the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Park District were hoping for Saturday.
As the Bears get set to play the Buffalo Bills in their first preseason game of the seaosn, all eyes are on the condition of the playing surface at Soldier Field after Bears Family Night was canceled a Aug. 5 because the field was unplayable.
The explanation given last week was that the field had not received enough water, which caused the sod to rip at the seams. Water won’t be a problem Saturday as it has been raining steadily since around 2 p.m. CT, but how will the field withstand a combination of water and cleats once the gams gets going?
The groundscrew kept the tarp on the field until about 5:30 p.m. and had been blowing fans underneath the tarp to keep it dry. The field is obviously now wet because the rain has not stopped as of 6 p.m., but at least it hasn’t been pounded with rain all day.
For now, the field looks more than playable, but we’ll have to see how it holds up once the game starts.
Will Matt Forte play tonight? He threatened to hold himself out of the game because he doesn’t have a new contract, but he’s dressed, on the field, and participating in warm-ups.
There haven’t been any changes to the depth chart since it was released earlier this week, but defensive tackle Anthony Adams will not play because of a calf injury. Matt Toeaina will start in his place at nose tackle and Henry Melton will be the other starting tackle.
How long will the starters play? With the lack of work the players got in the offseason, I could see Lovie Smith sticking with the starters for the entire first quarter. The head coach’s’ plan could change based on the weather/playing conditions, however. If the field doesn’t hold up or it doesn’t stop raining, Smith could very well take his top players out of the game even sooner.
Lee Evans — who was traded to Baltimore Friday — is still listed as a No. 1 wide receiver for the Bills on the depth charts handed out in the press box. Oops. To be fair, the charts were likely printed out before the trade and there’s really no reason to re-print them for a preseason game. Donald Jones will get the start in his place.
I’m interested to see how the Bills use Brad Smith tonight, who they signed to a 4-year, $15 million deal after the lockout ended. Smith is only listed as a third-team quarterback on the Bills depth chart, but I’m told he’ll see some action at wide receiver and in the return game tonight. You would think with the loss of Evans the Bills would use Smith more at wide receiver, but I guess we’ll just wait and see. I’d expect to see him at quarterback for a good portion of the second half.
I’m also excited to see rookie defensive end Marcell Dareus, who the Bills drafted out of Alabama in the first round. Dave Wannstedt said earlier this week on 670 The Score that the Bills fully intend to start him this season, so we’ll see how ready he is. He’s listed on the left side in the Bills’ 3-4 defense and will go up against fellow rookie Gabe Carimi who will start at right tackle for the Bears.
Roscoe Parrish, Justin Rogers, Kelvin Sheppard, Zack Pianalto and Shawn Nelson are out for the Bills tonight.