With season on the line, Bears’ players regaining health
BY SEAN JENSEN email@example.com December 19, 2012 10:12PM
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Updated: January 21, 2013 4:05PM
Heading into a must-win game in Arizona, the Bears appear to be getting dramatically healthier.
Receiver Earl Bennett, linebacker Geno Hayes, cornerback Tim Jennings, defensive end Shea McClellin and defensive tackle Henry Melton — all of whom missed last Sunday’s game — were at least limited in practice Wednesday.
Not that the session was all that physically taxing; the practice was 30 minutes less than usual, and players didn’t have helmets or pads on.
The only Bears who didn’t practice were linebacker Brian Urlacher and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott.
“We were able to run around a little bit, so it was kind of encouraging to see some of the other players that had been out,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Of course, we’ll need everybody this week.
“We know what’s at stake for this game.”
Bennett (concussion) has missed the last two games, along with Jennings.
Asked how much they’ve missed Jennings, Smith said, “A lot, especially with some of the teams we’ve played lately.
“But again, we put all of that aside. We’re hopeful to get him back this week. But having a guy come back with eight interceptions, and just the type of play we’ve gotten from him, would give us all a boost.”
The Cardinals have struggled to get solid play at quarterback, but they boast a talented receiver corps that includes Larry Fitzgerald, former Notre Dame standout Michael Floyd and Early Doucet.
For the Cardinals, Doucet and safeties Rashad Jones and James Sanders didn’t practice, while nine others were limited, including defensive end Calais Campbell.
With Michael Bush on injured reserve, the Bears’ short-yardage effectiveness took a hit.
Bush had sparkled in that role, and Matt Forte was unable to convert two from the goal line and another on second-and-one on the opening series of the 21-13 loss to the Packers. So is Kahlil Bell, who was re-signed Tuesday, an option?
“That’s certainly a possibility,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said, although he noted that hasn’t been determined yet.
Defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, who was put on injured reserve Monday, will undergo a knee scope next week.
Toeaina had been pushing through the knee injury for most of the season.