Chicago Sun-Times

Hester doubtful for Lions game; Peppers expected to play

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Defensive end Julius Peppers returned to practice Friday and is expected to play against the Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field. But wide receiver Devin Hester did not practice and while coach Lovie Smith said he's ''hopeful' Hester will play against the Lions, he sounded like he was planning on going without him.

''We're confident [even without Hester],'' Smith said. ''You're right -- there's only one Devin Hester. No one has anyone like him. So 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 NFL games. So we should be OK.''

Based on that testimony, it's likely that Johnny Knox would replace Hester on kickoff returns and Earl Bennett on punt returns. Knox returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 2009. Bennett returned a punt in 2009.

Friday was the first day that Peppers has practiced this week. But Smith didn't seem to think that would be a problem. Peppers was listed as doubtful on a Saturday before the Vikings game, but started and had two sacks.

''He did everything [in practice], so hopefully he'll be able to go to,'' Smith said. ''Friday isn't like a Wednesday practice. But he's a quick healer, as you've seen before. So hopefully he'll be able to go.''

Smith confirmed that right tackle Gabe Carimi had arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee, but he emphasized that it was a ''minor'' procedure. He said it's too early to tell if Carimi will be put on injured reserve.

''I don't know the extent of it,'' Smith said. ''We'll find out a little bit more. I just know right now that he had a minor scope done.''

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The Bears will miss Devin Hester the "returnman", but not Devin Hester the "receiver". This might be the perfect opportunity for Earl Bennett to sneak into the starting lineup. Bennett is the most complete receiver on the roster, and seems to have the best set of hands, why he's not a starter is beyond me? Hester drops a lot of passes and is only good for a couple deep passes every couple games, nothing consistent. Bennett is consistent, has soft hands, and has a great rapport with Cutler. He needs to be on the field more, Hester needs to be the slot guy where he'll get the ball in space, and used on end arounds and other gizmo plays Martzs comes up with. This would also allow Hester to better concentrate on what he was born to do, return kicks and punts.

As far as Gabe Carimi, its starting to look like IR is in his future, which sucks. Had Carimi stayed on the field, he might have proved to be the best tackle drafted this year. I say give him whatever type of surgery he needs and allow him to rest up and be ready for the OTA's, Lance Louis looks more than capable of holding the right tackle job down for the rest of the season GO BEARS!!

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on November 11, 2011 1:55 PM.

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