Starting right tackle Jordan Mills (left foot) and top backups Eben Britton (hamstring) and Brian de la Puente (knee sprain) remained out of practice Monday, a discouraging sign for a team whose run game has sputtered in the first two exhibitions.
Mills has been out since Aug. 6 and has not played in either of the two preseason games. His injured foot is the same one that knocked him out of last year's season finale and required off-season surgery. The outlook for his return appears uncertain.
"Day to day," coach Marc Trestman said. "I can't give you anything more than that. We're hopeful it's soon, but that's all I've heard at this point in time."
Trestman declined to speculate on if the injury would keep Mills from playing in the regular-season opener.
"I can't answer that question right now," Trestman said. "I'm hopeful that it's not."
Mills isn't sure either. "Should be back soon," he said. "Hopefully next week. We'll see."
Mills is at least out of the protective walking boot he was wearing until recently. "We're just being careful," he said. "That's why they put me in the boot, to be cautious." Mills wasn't sure even if he would play in the preseason finale but looks forward to improving on a rookie season in which he started all 16 games, and that includes playing in the opener.
"There is no doubt I will be the same player I was last year, even better," he said. "I will be ready for Game 1."
Britton has been out since July 30, while de la Puente was hurt in the preseason opener Aug. 8.
Chris Conte has started 40 games at free safety since the Bears drafted him in the third round in 2011, but he has yet to play in the preseason following off-season shoulder surgery.
But Conte has been back at practice for more than a week and could get snaps Friday night against the Seahawks in Seattle. It's uncertain what his status is after the Bears added four safeties in free agency and drafted Brock Vereen in the fourth round.
Coach Marc Trestman was asked what he needs to see from Conte once he gets in a game.
"I don't have a list of things that he's got to get done to put him in a position to start or be on our football team or whatever it might be," Trestman said. "He's getting an opportunity every day in practice. We'll see if that continues through the week."
Coach Marc Trestman is confident that wide receiver Brandon Marshall's new side job as an analyst for Showtime's "Inside the NFL," program will not distract from his full-time job.
Marshall consulted with Trestman before accepting the position, which was announced last week.
"I just told him, 'I'm not going to make that decision for you,' " Trestman said. "I said, 'I trust that the football team will always come first, that your energy will be in place each and every Wednesday when we go to work and you'll do the things you need to do to be ready to play on Sunday.'
"And I said, 'I trust you.' And that's how I left it with him."
Cancel the punting and long-snapping competitions and add a candidate to the battle for return specialist.
First-year punter Tress Way and long snapper Chad Rempel were waived Monday night, leaving only one player on the roster at each position: rookie punter Pat O'Donnell, the Bears' sixth-round pick, and long snapper Brandon Hartson.
It has been a foregone conclusion that O'Donnell would emerge victorious, since he was a draft pick. But Hartson, a first-year player, must continue to perform consistently or the Bears could pick up a veteran who gets cut by another team later this month.
To fill the open roster spots, veteran return specialist Darius Reynaud was added, along with cornerback Peyton Thompson.
In 2012, Reynaud led the NFL with 1,650 kick-return yards (1,240 yards on kickoff returns and 410 yards on punt returns) and tied for the NFL lead with 3 kick-return touchdowns (2 punts, 1 kickoff) and punt-return touchdowns. He also third in punt-return average (13.2 yards).
Linebacker Lance Briggs did not practice Monday because of a bruised knee. Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller (ankle) and Isaiah Frey (hamstring) remained out.
Wide receiver Chris Williams (hamstring) and tight end Dante Rosario (calf) returned to practice after missing last Thursday's game.