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The Bears must be ready to finally put Pisa Tinoisamoa on injured reserve.

The team will sign free-agent linebacker Cato June to a one-year contract, and it will need to clear a spot to add the veteran. That means Tinoisamoa will finally head to injured reserve after being lost for the season with a knee injury Oct. 18 at Atlanta.

June was the leading tackler for the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, the year they defeated the Bears in the Super Bowl, and his history in the NFL is as a linebacker in the Tampa Two. While he played the weak side for the Colts, he was a strong-side linebacker in Tampa Bay last season and the positions are considered interchangeable.

Running back Garrett Wolfe is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a lacerated kidney.

Wolfe was hospitalized for three nights following the Arizona game on Nov. 8, and while the hope was that he would be able to return before the end of the season, that's not a possibility. Wolfe is expected to make a complete return, though, and general manager Jerry Angelo expressed a desire to see him receive more opportunities last week.

"He's a great kid and it's unfortunate,'' Angelo said. ``I was hoping he would start integrating more into the offense and [offensive coordinator] Ron [Turner] was using him more in practices, and he's done a good job on special teams. I wanted to see him take another step as a runner.''

The Holy Cross and Northern Illinois product had 22 carries for 120 yards this season, ranking him second behind Matt Forte. He caught two passes for 12 yards, but his most prominent role was on special teams. He's tied for third with nine tackles, eight of which are solos.

Let's dip into the mailbag for a question that I have received from a number of readers:

Q: Why haven't the Bears placed Pisa Tinoisamoa on injured reserve yet? What are the Bears doing? Why wait?

Patrick F., Miami

A: That's a good question, and I think there are probably a couple explanations to it. For starters, realize that there are not any prizes on the street right now. Check out the rosters of the St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and some of the other real woeful NFL teams right now. They would have jumped on difference makers weeks ago.

There have been a few e-mails that have suggested that the Bears are waiting to make a move to save money. I don't believe that is the case, and I've certainly pointed out instances in the past where it's appeared the organization has gone on the cheap. The Bears have six healthy linebackers on the roster right now, and it's not necessarily going to be a linebacker-for-linebacker swap here. The team is relatively healthy at this point, and could be waiting to make a move until a need area arises. Let's say a player at another position suffers a three- to four-week injury. Well, Tinoisamoa's spot could then be used to add a body for some depth at that position.

The Bears cannot put Tionisamoa on injured reserve right now and not replace him with a corresponding move because of rules regarding the practice squad. A club cannot carry eight practice squad players (which the Bears have right now) and have less than a 53-man roster if one of the practice squad players is in his final year of eligibility. I don't know for certain, but quarterback Brett Basanez and/or offensive tackle James Marten could be in their final year of practice squad eligibility.

Veteran linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa will miss the remainder of the season as he will undergo surgery on his right knee, possibly microfracture surgery.

Tinoisamoa was injured on Sunday night at Atlanta after missing three games following the tearing of the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Lovie Smith isn't one to discuss personnel moves on Mondays, but you can say this about today's media session for the head coach--he didn't rule out a possible change on the offensive line before the Bears play at Cincinnati on Sunday.

All you need to know about the Bears' effort to run the ball Sunday night at Atlanta is that quarterback Jay Cutler was the game's leading rusher by virtue of a 30-yard dash he made in the fourth quarter. Running back Matt Forte was bottled up, held to a career-low 23 yards on 15 rushes. His long rush was five yards against a Falcons' defense that had consistently been run on in the first month of the season.

It's not like Smith has a range of options. Guard Josh Beekman started 16 games last season and was with the first team through the majority of training camp. He could return to left guard and replace Frank Omiyale. If the Bears wanted to try a new look at tackle, they could turn to Kevin Shaffer, and experienced starter before with Cleveland and Atlanta. If a move is coming, it would most likely involve Beekman only, but Smith spoke mostly in general terms.

"We're 3-2 so the offensive line has done some good things,'' he said. "They've contributed to all of that. Coming off of a loss we're not real pleased with anything we did last night, starting with me. I'm not pleased with a lot of things I did last night. We'll go from there. But our offensive line has done some good things.''

Smith was then asked if he could forecast any changes coming on the line and gave his standard reply for such inquiries--they look at every possible scenario after every single game.

"But I don't foresee any major changes on the offensive line,'' he said.

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa returned to practice today at Halas Hall for the first since since suffering a sprained right knee in the season opener at Green Bay. He is expected to return to action when the team plays again Oct. 18 at Atlanta and likely return to his spot as the starter on the strong side. Wide receiver Johnny Knox was also back on the field three days after a shin injury knocked him out of the victory over Detroit.

A handful of players were given the day off, though, in the first of two practices during the bye week. Pretty much anyone that has had a minor ailment of late was rested, including defensive end Alex Brown, linebacker Lance Briggs, wide receiver Devin Hester, left guard Frank Omiyale and defensive tackle Tommie Harris.

"We need to heal up a little bit bumps and bruises and those type things,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "Also good to get some work in offense vs. defense, getting back to some of the training camp-type practices. Injury-list wise, no need in going on any of that, they guys are all getting better, we're optimistic we'll have most of the group ready to go Monday when we come back and start our preparation for Atlanta.''

We knew the Bears were going to use the bye week to try and heal up at wide receiver and linebacker, and now this: defensive lineman Israel Idonije is expected to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery today, a source close to the player said. Idonije has canceled a personal appearance.

Idonije has been on the injury report since the beginning of the season with a knee listed as his ailment, and he was questionable for Sunday's game against Detroit. He played and was credited with a forced fumble and a sack. Idonije was also involved on special teams, but didn't look as quick as usual. By doing the procedure today, there is a chance Idonije will return quickly. While it's unknown the exact reason they are working on his knee, it's not out of the question that he could be back on the field when the Bears play at Atlanta Oct. 18. The bye will certainly help.

Rookie defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert played for the first time against the Lions, and the Bears have added depth with tackle Matt Toeaina, who was inactive. So if Idonije is forced to miss a game or two, there will not be a scramble for bodies. Mark Anderson has been used inside in pass-rushing situations, and there are more than enough bodies to go around.

All indications are that Hunter Hillenmeyer did not suffered a fractured rib in Sundays victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Hillenmeyer was originally injured on a run play in the second quarter, and then he tried to continue playing before taking two more hits in the same area on his torso.

He was examined at Qwest Field, and in cases like this the team always gives the player an X-ray. Following the game, a source said the injury was not that serious, and coach Lovie Smith backed that up today at his press conference.

"We'll see how that plays out the rest of the week, hopefully he'll be able to go [Sunday vs. Detroit],'' Smith said. ``It isn't as serious as [tight end Desmond Clark's] injury, so hopefully we'll get good news on that front.''

Clark suffered a fractured rib in the opener at Green Bay, but he returned to practice for limited duty on Friday, and it's his hope that he will play vs. the Lions after missing just two weeks. Still, the Bears are going to have to consider adding some help at the position. They are razor thin at linebacker. Pisa Tinoisamoa will probably test out his sprained right knee in practice this week, and there is a possibility he will return to action against Detroit. Like Clark, he was injured in the opener. But when Hillenmeyer went down, the Bears were left with only one reserve linebacker--recently signed Tim Shaw. Nick Roach moved from strong side to the middle, and Jamar Williams took over at strong side.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Marcus Harrison continues to make progress on the side while on the non-football injury list and the defensive tackle is hopeful he'll be cleared for a return by Saturday when the Bears will practice at Soldier Field during Family Day.

Harrison has missed four practices and one mini-practice thus far with Anthony Adams and Dusty Dvoracek dividing the reps at nose tackle in his absence. Harrison reported to camp at 322, 10 pounds above the weight he said he played at last season. It's a combination of weight and body fat percentage that the team wants him to drop, especially after he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in May.

Some notes from the afternoon session:

The Bears are entering the most difficult days of training camp where their bodies are starting to feel fatigued after five weeks off. The session Monday afternoon probably reflected that somewhat, and quarterback Jay Cutler certainly was not as accurate as he has been, although he did lead the first offense into position for a 53-yard Robbie Gould field goal in the two-minute drills. Some quick notes from the workout:

Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Matt Toeania all returned to work.

Jamar Williams did a nice job taking on fullback Jason Davis in inside run drills.

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Joey LaRocque made it through his physical fine on Thursday but he will not make it to the practice field this afternoon.

The Bears released the linebacker this morning according to a source close to the player, a move that will enhance his chances to catch on elsewhere with the Bears having a crowded scene at the position.

A seventh-round pick from Oregon State in 2008, LaRocque was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster in Week 3 last season and played in 14 games on special teams. He made nine tackles and was a core member of the unit. A lower back injury prevented him from participating in the offseason program, but he was cleared after arriving at camp and said he felt good.

The Bears have nine linebackers on the training camp roster now starting with projected starters Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Pisa Tinoisamoa. Behind them are Hunter Hillenmeyer, Jamar Williams, Nick Roach, fifth-round pick Marcus Freeman and undrafted free agents Kevin Malast and Mike Rivera. The team will likely keep six or seven linebackers on the 53-man roster, and having appeared in 14 games, LaRocque is no longer practice squad eligible per NFL rules that mandate players cannot have appeared in more than nine regular-season games.

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--There was plenty of football and non-football issues to tackle as players reported throughout the day.

You get the sense everyone involved cannot wait to get started Friday afternoon. This is the only weekend the team will be practicing at Olivet Nazarene University as the Bears have Family Day at Soldier Field on Aug. 8, play at Buffalo on Aug. 15 and will break camp before the next weekend.

This is what defensive end Alex Brown said when I asked him at the end of OTA's how he felt the Bears had improved in comparison to other teams around the league:

"I don't know what everybody else has but I tell you what, I like the team we have now,'' Brown said. "I'll tell you that. We're going to be pretty good. We've got to come play and teams change from year to year and people tend to look at what happened the previous year and say, `OK, the strength of your schedule isn't very good or it is.' The teams we have coming in, they're going to be good teams. We're going to have to come ready to play, but we're going to have a good chance to win all of them.

"Everybody knows when everything kind of started changing but you come out and you see guys playing together and see how hard guys are working and over the past 10 weeks just to see how much we've grown, not just as a D-line or a defense but as a team, you see it. We've got to dodge the injury bug. If we can do that and if we can get Tommie [Harris] back healthy, we'll be damn hard to beat, I'll tell you that.''

I've spent four weeks here analyzing some of the things I'll be looking when when the whistle blows at 3 p.m. Friday and the Bears get rolling with their first practice of the season. Now it's time to turn over some space to the trained eye of Tom Thayer, who lists his occupation on his IRS paperwork every April as a "football describer.''

Thayer, the color analyst for WBBM-780 AM, will be at training camp and will offer daily updates for the Bears' flagship station. Here is what Thayer offered:

"There are three things I will be looking at and one of them is the free agents, the newcomers, [Jay] Cutler, Pisa [Tinoisamoa], [Orlando] Pace, big Frank [Omiyale], [Kevin] Shaffer, [Josh] Bullocks, these guys that came in. I want to start looking at those guys and see if they really are what they are, if they're going to fit in, what they're going to do to the team and how they're changing it. Then, I have a key selection of veterans who have been here already who are on the roster who I really want to pay attention to to see if they re-emerge, if they're playing like they did last year, if they're not involved in the betterment of the football team the way they should be due to their position on the roster and with the team and all that. My guys here are [Nathan] Vasher, [Brian] Urlacher, Tommie [Harris], Kevin Jones, Wale [Ogunleye], Nick Roach.

"And then [Johnny] Knox, [Juaquin] Iglesias and D.J. Moore are some rookies I want to watch. I think Moore may have a place. He is one of the three guys of the rooks I am looking at who may need to come in and just provide interest. Just to see if they can help in any way. There is a specific group and positioning of players that I am interested in looking at first. Then I think if you are looking at a position specifically, I still have concerns about the safety position. I like Kevin Payne but there is a battle for all other interior defensive back positions. Payne is only going to be pushed by himself. He is a guy who has to stay healthy. You can go out there and Kevin Payne can show flashes of brilliance and then he can pop his head in there and come out, get dinged, and you're back to square one. My only issue with Kevin Payne is durability.''

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