10 Bears question marks entering opener vs. rivals

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The early leader for Bears Quote of the Year came when outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was asked this week to describe Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Hall of Fame,” he said. “Two words.”

While we pause for a word count, here are 10 question marks entering the Bears’ season opener Sunday against their rivals:

1. So the receivers are playing, or what?

The bet here is, yes, Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson will. Coach John Fox won’t make a final call until Sunday morning. They’ve looked good in the parts of practice open to the media. But consider: according to sportsinjurypredictor.com, Broncos with a questionable tag appeared in games only 35 percent of the time last year under Fox.

2. What stands between them and Sunday?

Fox said his teams “do a little bit more maybe than some people do” in practice the day before games. In fact, Jeffery’s injury occurred during the “walk-through” the day before the preseason opener.

So making it through Saturday’s team gathering — a strenuous one —will be telling.

3. Matt Forte has the highest-selling jersey in Wisconsin. Wait, what?

Since the end of last season, no player’s jersey has sold more in the state than No. 22, according to data released by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“There must be a lot of Bears fans in Wisconsin,” Forte said. “Either that, or they’re buying it to burn it or something. I don’t know.”

4. No ‘Radiogate’ redux Sunday?

Asked about the Patriots’ latest scandal — in which the Steelers’ coaching headphones instead pumped in the New England radio broadcast Thursday — Fox said he’s more concerned about Soldier Field.

“We’ve had our share of technical difficulties in our own stadium,” he said. “That’s what I’m really kind of focused on at this point — just to make sure that goes smooth.”

Share Events on The Cube5. How are the Packers like the Patriots, anyway?

Because they can plug-and-play offensive players into their system to play alongside a stud quarterback, safety Antrel Rolle said. The Bears can’t overlook injured Jordy Nelson’s replacements, led by Davante Adams.

“They’re going to find ways to make it work,” Rolle said.

6. Clay Matthews is listed as an outside linebacker, but will probably play inside. How hard will it be to find him?

“You’ve got to find the hair,” tight end Martellus Bennett said. “You just locate the hair and you locate Clay.”

7. How do the Packers grow the rivalry?

Every year, Packers coach Mike McCarthy takes the time during the first Bears week to teach the rivalry’s history to rookies and new players.

“Just to make sure they understand the importance and the significance of the best rivalry in pro football,” he said.

8. Is Jared Allen watching Julius Peppers?

Yes and no. Being in the same division for years, Allen has watched hours of film of Peppers. He better appreciates Peppers’ transition from defensive end to linebacker, where Allen will make his first regular-season start Sunday.

Allen has scouted players more similar to his 6-6, 255-pound frame. Peppers weighs about 30 pounds more.

“I worked out with him years and years and years ago,” Allen said, shaking his head in amazement. “I think he was 290 (pounds) at 5 percent body fat.”

9. Which makes Allen ….

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Allen reminds him of 6-7 Hall of Fame linebacker Ted Hendricks.

“The Mad Stork,” Fangio said.

10. Why does the NYPD cap John Fox wore Friday have special meaning?

He was in his final season as the Giants’ defensive coordinator on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Kind of embedded in me ever since,” he said. “Lost some close friends. And holds a special place every September 11.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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