On the same day they were knocked out of the playoff picture, the Chicago Bears already began making player personnel decisions for next season when quarterback Kyle Orton was proclaimed the incumbent starter heading into training camp.
''All players will have competition,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said, according to Chicago media outlets. ''Everybody's in the same group. But Kyle is our quarterback. He has done a lot of good things for us this year, but we all start from scratch and go from there.''
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner felt the same and hinted Orton, because of injury, has more productive years ahead of him.
"He played really well [in 2008]," Turner said. "It took him a while to get back in the groove because of his ankle [injury]. I still don't think he's 100 percent."
In Chicago's season-ending 31-24 loss to the Houston Texans, Orton had a strong game -- 22 of 37 for 244 yards and two touchdowns -- but was still hindered by his sprained ankle.
"It was a battle every game, a battle throughout the week to get it feeling halfway decent," Orton said. "Something would always happen in the game to re-tweak it.
The Bears finished 9-7.