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updated: 11/11/2011 8:15 PM

Hester not likely to play vs. Lions

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  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.com  The absence of Devin Hester will hurt the Bears' return teams Sunday at Solider Field against the Lions.

      Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.com The absence of Devin Hester will hurt the Bears' return teams Sunday at Solider Field against the Lions.

 
 

Wide receiver Devin Hester (ankle) did not practice Friday and was listed as questionable, but he is not expected to play Sunday.

The absence of the NFL's all-time leader in kick-return touchdowns will impact special teams, but coach Lovie Smith is confident in Hester's backups.

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"There's only one Devin Hester," Smith said. "No one (else) has anyone like him. Without him there, we'll just have another very good returner to replace him. We have other guys on our roster who have scored touchdowns in an NFL game, so we should be OK."

Earl Bennett has 15 career punt returns for 160 yards (10.7-yard average), including a 49-yard TD in 2009. Johnny Knox has returned 7 kickoffs this season for a 21.7-yard average, and he went to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner after the 2009 season, when he averaged 29.0 yards on 32 returns, including a 102-yard touchdown.

Defensive end Julius Peppers (knee), defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (knee), safety Major Wright (ankle) and tight end Kellen Davis (shoulder) all went through a full practice and were listed as "probable."

Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi had an arthroscopic debridement (removal of dead tissue or foreign matter) of his injured right knee Friday morning. He will miss the next two games and probably at least a couple more.

Smith characterized Carimi's scope as minor and downplayed the possibility of placing him on injured reserve, which would end his season.

"Minor and I.R. don't go together right away," Smith said. "Right now, I just know he's not going to play this week and he may be out a while."

Safety in numbers:

Brandon Meriweather split time with Major Wright at strong safety last Monday night against the Eagles by design, and that's the plan for Sunday's game as well.

Meriweather started Games 2-5 at free safety but was benched in favor of rookie Chris Conte following the 24-13 loss to the Lions. The Bears were burned by big plays in that game, including a 73-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson that victimized Meriweather and Chris Harris, who was cut 17 days later and has since been picked up by the Lions.

"Whatever I can do to help the team I'm happy," Meriweather said. "If that's getting more reps, or if that's playing scout team, I'm happy to do it."

Wright has started five games but missed Week 3 with head/neck injuries, and the Bucs game with a hip injury. He missed five games early last season with a hamstring injury.

"Whenever you miss time, it hurts a little bit," coach Lovie Smith said of Wright. "But everybody misses a little bit of time from time to time. He's making progress, and each time he plays he'll do that."

Despite the nagging injuries, Wright is sixth on the team with 35 tackles, and he got his first NFL interception last Monday night.

"It's frustrating," he said of the injuries, "but I can't let that bother my style of play. It's a part of the game."

Wounded Lions:

For the Lions, running back Jahvid Best (concussion), who had 163 yards on 12 carries against the Bears in Week 5, is out.

Safety Louis Delmas (foot), defensive tackle Sammie Hill (ankle) and punter Ryan Donahue (right quad) were limited at practice and are "questionable." Quarterback Matthew Stafford (right finger/ankle) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (elbow) are "probable," after full practices. Place-kicker Jason Hanson (left knee) and wide receiver Rashied Davis (foot) were limited but are "probable."

•Follow Bob's Bears reports via Twitter @Bob LeGere and check out our Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com.

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