Dec. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) leaves the game with an injury in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Bears defeated the Cardinals 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Urlacher Returns to Practice, Forte Expected to Play

As the Bears put the finishing touches on their preparations for a must-win game vs the Detroit Lions, a couple of key players participated in Friday’s practice.

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher returned to practice for the first time since he injured his hamstring on the second to last play against the Seahawks on December 2nd.  Urlacher tested the bum wheel in pregame warmups vs the Cardinals in Arizona last weekend, but hadn’t practiced this week until Friday.  Although the veteran linebacker is chomping at the bit to get into the game, it’s unlikely he’ll play on Sunday.

Here’s Lovie Smith on Urlacher’s progress:

“The normal progress we hoped he would make he has made,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “Brian doesn’t have to necessarily practice a full practice before we would play him, but we’re not to that point. We’re just going to look at how he moved around and see how he feels after today.

“It’s not like he went full speed. You just have to see if you think he’s ready to go when you’re coming off of a muscle injury. That’s how it goes. There’s no ideal time. But I wouldn’t take off too far on the Brian Urlacher talk. All we can tell you is that he had a limited practice today, which is progress for us, no more than that.”

According to Brad Biggs, Urlacher will be officially listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week.

In better news, running back Matt Forte is expected to be a go on Sunday.  Forte injured his right ankle for the third time this season during Sunday’s 28-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Forte’s been doing a lot to prepare for this must-win game:

“I’ve done this stuff before, acupuncture, chiropractic stuff, soft-tissue work, hyperbaric chamber, same stuff,” Forte said. “It seems to work better. I think since I sprained it the first time, it’s gotten all the way healed so it’s not a lot more damaged than the first time.”

Forte will be a key vs the Lions on Sunday.  In nine career games vs the Lions, he’s got 7 touchdowns and averages over 100 all-purpose yards/game.  With Michael Bush on IR and third stringer Armando Allen missing practice this week with a knee injury, the Bears only have Forte and recently re-signed Kahlil Bell ready to go on Sunday.

The biggest injury concern I have is at the safety position.  Chris Conte suffered a hamstring injury vs the Cardinals and with veteran backup Craig Steltz already on IR, it looks like Anthony Walter or newly signed Troy Nolan could get the call at free safety.  The safety spot is critical vs a team like the Lions who are likely to throw it around a lot.  Remember last season during the Monday night game in Detroit where safety Chris Harris was repeatedly torched, leading to his release and a shakeup in the safety position bringing Conte up to the starting lineup, where he and Major Wright have held it down pretty well since.

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Tags: Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears Chris Conte Matt Forte

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