Bears QB McCown to play vs. Pack, his first NFL start since '07

Josh McCown will start an NFL game for the first time in four years when he lines up under center for the Chicago Bears on Sunday night at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers.

The Bears said Wednesday that McCown will replace the struggling Caleb Hanie as their quarterback. McCown hasn't started a game since Dec. 23, 2007, for the Oakland Raiders against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was completely out of the NFL last season.

"Other than just the excitement and the joy of being between the stripes with the lights on again, I think that first snap obviously will be exciting," McCown said.

The excitement for McCown, who threw two passes last week in a late relief role and eight passes total since his last start, will be tempered by the fact that the Bears' playoff hopes will end if they lose.

"So I don't want to get too excited and too amped up because for me, absolutely it's a cool story and cool moment, but at the same time, I'm a competitor," he said. "I want to win the game. I want to do right by the coaches and by the other 52 guys in the locker room."

About five weeks ago, McCown was more concerned with coaching high school football than starting an NFL game.

Then quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 20, when the Bears owned a 7-3 record. Hanie started four consecutive games and lost all of them, throwing nine interceptions as the Bears' offense found the end zone just four times.

"We just felt like we needed a boost," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of the decision to change quarterbacks. "Caleb had played four games. I felt like that was enough to prove who you are and if you could help our team win. No more than that.

"Josh has been around, knows our offense, has been working against our defense for a long period of time. He's a veteran. And again we're just trying to give ourselves the best chance to win the game, and we feel that's the direction we need to go."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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