The Bears are hopeful that cornerback Tim Jennings and defensive tackle Henry Melton will return from injuries this week against the Arizona Cardinals.
Jennings, who leads the NFL with eight interceptions, has missed the last two games after suffering a dislocated shoulder in a 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 2 at Soldier Field. Melton missed last week's 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field with a collarbone injury.
''I'm always eager to get back out there to kind of help the team,'' Jennings said. ''I feel good -- body feels well enough to continue playing at a high level.
''I just want to definitely make sure my shoulder is where it needs to be strength- and flexibility-wise to go out there and help the team win. I know if I feel like I can't help them at all, then I'm no good out there. I want to continue to make sure it's where it needs to be.''
The team has been cautious with Jennings' injury. Jennings said he still is feeling soreness in his shoulder, ''but that's just part of football.'' He said there is no concern of him aggravating the injury if he plays Sunday.
''We just want to make sure that we prevent anything from happening,'' Jennings said. ''Of course if it happens again it could be further damage. But that could happen 3-4 months down the road. It can happen next year, the year after that. So what we're gonna do is try to protect it as much as I can from any kind of further damage.''
Melton said he suffered his injury when he fell on the artificial turf at the Metrodome and landed on his shoulder.
''It was kind of embarrassing, but it hurt,'' Melton said.
He said the team was being cautious with him as well and sounded like he is ready to play against the Cardinals.
''It's more kind of precautionary,'' he said. ''I could definitely play through it, but they don't want anything worse to happen to it that would keep me out of the playoffs or something like that. We're going to see how it feels and maybe give it a go.''