While it remains to be seen if the Bears will shuffle the offensive line when they take the practice field tonight at Ward Field, there will be some new faces practicing for the first time.
Running back Kevin Jones has been removed from the physically unable to perform list and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek has been taken off the non-football injury list. Both are expected to suit up and participate in drills.
It's a good step for Jones, who vowed when he signed last month to be ready for the season opener. He's seven months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in his right knee last Dec. 23 against Kansas City, and the Bears figured there was at least a decent possibility he would begin the season on PUP. That cannot happen now that he has been removed and it will be interesting to see how much work his knee can handle. So far, he's reported no pain, something that is not uncommon in ACL recoveries.
Jones, who signed a one-year deal for the minimum salary benefit, said he plans to compete for the starting job with rookie Matt Forte. At the minimum, he could help provide a 1-2 punch provided the next four weeks go well.
Dvoracek returns after pulling his right calf muscle working out with teammate Tommie Harris before camp opened. It was more than a speed bump for the former third-round draft pick who missed his entire rookie season in 2006 with a foot injury and 15 games last season with a torn ACL in his left knee. A hand injury sidelined Dvoracek for portions of the offseason program and he must prove he can stay on the field.
Anthony Adams has a definite lead in his goal to be the starter at nose tackle next to Harris, but a healthy Dvoracek will at least figure in the mix. The Bears have done a nice job of covering themselves at the position that was such a problem last year. Israel Idonije has moved inside and rookie third-round pick Marcus Harrison has been impressive, getting a pass deflection Thursday night against Kansas City.
We'll see what transpires on the field tonight.