After hitting each other in training camp for the last two weeks, the Bears will finally get a chance to face another uniform when they battle the Kansas City Chiefs in the pre-season opener Thursday night at Soldier Field. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. It’s the f

After hitting each other in training camp for the last two weeks, the Bears will finally get a chance to face another uniform when they battle the Kansas City Chiefs in the pre-season opener Thursday night at Soldier Field.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

It’s the first of four pre-season games for the Bears. They will travel to Seattle next weekend and then host the San Francisco 49ers in a nationally televised game Aug. 21 at Soldier Field. They then close out the pre-season portion of their schedule Aug. 28 in Cleveland against the Browns.

“It will be great to get back on the field and play against another team,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said of Thursday’s pre-season opener.

Among the players looking to get in some game action for the Bears is defensive back Mike Brown, who has missed most of the past two seasons with injuries.

“It feels really good to be healthy,” Brown said at training camp in Bourbonnais. “I’m looking forward to getting back into some game action.”

Defensive coordinator Bob Babich says having Brown back is big for the Bears.

“Mike Brown is not only a great leader, he’s a playmaker,” Babich said. “He does a lot of differed things for us on defense. He energizes our guys when he’s on the field.

Brown is part of a Bear defense that will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 2007 season. After being one of the top defenses in the league in both 2005 and 2006, the Bears defensive unit fell to 27th in the league last season.

A defense that forced 44 turnovers in the run to the Super Bowl in 2006 could only take the ball away from opposing offenses 33 times last season.

“We have to get back to creating turnovers,” Brown said.

Now, with Mike Brown back, middle linebacker Brian Uhrlacher under contract and happy, and linebacker Lance Briggs with a new contract, the Bears defense is ready to regain its form of the past.

“We’re ready to go,” says Bears defensive end Alex Brown. “We are a team that prides itself on its defense, and last season, we didn’t get the job done.”

Defensive back Charles Tillman says injuries played havoc with his unit last season. Now, with everyone basically healthy, he’s hoping things can turn around this season.

I think that offense sells tickets in football, but it’s the defense that wins games,” Tillman said. "Everybody on the defense is in good shape. If we can play hard and play smart and with a sense of urgency, we should be OK.”

The competition for starting quarterback continues to spark training camp with Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman sharing the snaps with the starting unit. The two are expected to share equal time in the pre-season opener.

Smith said he would like to have a decision on who will start the season at quarterback before the third pre-season game against the 49ers.

“Whoever we name as starting quarterback, we will have complete confidence in,” Smith said.

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