Bears’ banged-up lineup misses key players at practice
The Chicago Bears were missing four of their starters on Thursday, while other players were also held out of practice with injuries.
Receiver Earl Bennet was sidelined with concussion, cornerback Tim Jennings sat out with a dislocated shoulder and defensive tackle Henry Melton (chest) missed practice due to personal reasons, according to Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith.
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher also sat out with hamstring injury, but his absence didn’t come as a surprise since the Pro Bowler is expected to miss the rest of the regular season as well. Other key Chicago Bears players missing practice with injuries included: backup running back Michael Bush (ribs) and rookie defensive end Shia McClellin (knee).
"We have a lot of other players, about five or six that were injured today that were able to do a small amount," stated Lovie Smith after Thursday’s practice.
Meanwhile, a number of Chicago Bears players were limited at practice including tight end Kellen Davis (knee), offensive tackle Jonathan Scitt (shoulder), quarterback Jay Cutler (neck/knee), defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (knee), as well as linebackers Lance Briggs (knee/hip) and Geno Hayes (knee).
In Wednesday’s injury report, the Chicago Bears had feared that Jay Cutler would have been held out if the team had practiced on Wednesday. Jay Cutler had sustained the neck injury during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, while the Chicago Bears also identified some knee issues in Wednesday’s injury report. While there were speculations that the injuries will affect Jay Cutler’s mobility and effectiveness towards avoiding the pass rush, Lovie Smith believed Cutler won’t experience such issues against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
"He practiced today without any trouble at all," said Lovie Smith. "You know after a hard fought game like that on the turf, you sometimes have some bumps that last a little longer. He should be fine."
In additional good news for the Chicago Bears, defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot), cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulder) and guard Chris Spencer (knee), were full participants at Thursday’s practice.
The Green Bay Packers are also experiencing their fair-share of injury issues with safety Charles Woodson already ruled out for Sunday’s game. Receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), defensive end C.J. Wilson (knee) and running back James Starks (knee) missed Thursday’s practice with the Green Bay Packers.
The Chicago Bears will practice again on Friday before holding a walk-through on Saturday.