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Could Bears open 2013 season against Ravens?

Posted Mar 26, 2013

Larry discusses whether the Bears could open the NFL season by hosting the Ravens, the likelihood of Shea McClellin moving to middle linebacker and if Walter Payton would have violated the league's new "running back" rule on a famous run against the Chiefs.

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I heard that the Bears may host the Baltimore Ravens in the opening Thursday night game of the NFL season. Is that true?

Gary K.
Wheeling, Illinois

It's a possibility, but I don't think it's very likely. With the Baltimore Orioles hosting the White Sox on the first Thursday night of the NFL season Sept. 5, the Super Bowl champion Ravens will play the league's traditional opener on the road. (The Orioles and Ravens share the same parking lots and therefore cannot play at the same time.) Baltimore's eight road opponents this year are the Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Bears, Lions, Bills, Dolphins and Broncos. There's also a baseball game in Cincinnati that night, which eliminates the Bengals. Personally, I think the NFL will send the Ravens to Denver given that the game would be a rematch of last year's playoff battle and feature future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as well as Elvis Dumervil facing his former team following "faxgate." The schedule likely will be released in mid-April, so we'll know for sure at that point.

Would the new Bears coaching staff consider moving Shea McClellin to middle linebacker? It seems like he has the size, strength and quickness to play the position.

Bob W.
Westchester, Illinois

As far as I know, the Bears have no plans to move Shea McClellin from defensive end to middle linebacker at this time. I've received several email questions about this topic, but the Bears were pleased with how McClellin performed as a pass-rush specialist last year as a rookie and are eager to see him continue to develop at defensive end. I don't see him switching to middle linebacker.

I was just wondering whether Walter Payton's famous run against the Chiefs, which is in the running on NFL.com's "Bracketology" for the greatest play of all time, would have been flagged under the new running back rule.

Tim E.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

That's a great question. I think you could definitely make a case that Walter Payton twice initiates contact with the crown of his helmet on his remarkable 18-yard run in a 1977 win over the Chiefs. So, yes, he probably would have been penalized. The first thing I thought about when I heard about that new rule was how many times Sweetness would have been flagged the way he punished defenders. On one of the most famous runs in NFL history, where Earl Campbell bowls over a Rams linebacker and eventually gets his jersey ripped off, he definitely would have been flagged under the new rule.

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