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Bears-Saints matchup of the day: Thursday

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Sept. 15, 2011 @ 4:08 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week Two battle between the Bears and Saints.

Saints TE Jimmy Graham vs. Bears' pass defense

After Jimmy Graham's strong finish to his rookie season, there was a great deal of talk during the lockout about him becoming one of the featured pieces in the Saints' offense in 2011. He's a tall target at 6-foot-6 with good speed, long arms and big hands. He's a rare athlete for the position and is a difficult player for defenders to match up against, particularly in the red zone.

The Bears' cover-2, however, could keep Graham from going off in Week Two. Chicago's zone coverage, and the "D" likely will play a lot of zone against the Saints, is designed to take away the deep ball down the middle, where Graham has the potential to make big plays. MLB Brian Urlacher left the Bears for a couple days this week to be with his family after his mother passed away, but he's expected to play Sunday. Urlacher has good range and height, which is going to make it tough for QB Drew Brees to drop passes over the middle past the Pro Bowl middle 'backer. Chicago will have two safeties back deep to serve as the last line of defense should Graham get loose.

The Bears will give up completions underneath, but keeping Graham from picking up yards in chunks will be one of their top goals.

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