Running back Matt Forte and wide receiver Eddie Royal, who are both expected to miss Monday's game in San Diego against the Chargers, also missed practice on Thursday, as did linebacker Pernell McPhee, but the Bears did get one key member of their defense back on the field for the first time in nearly a month.
Inside linebacker Shea McClellin injured his knee in a Week 5 win at Kansas City and missed games against Detroit and Minnesota, the latter even with the added bye week for recovery. McClellin, still the Bears’ third-leading tackler even with missing two-and-a-half games, was limited on Thursday.
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“I watched him today out there,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “He got some action. I think it’s 50/50 [for San Diego].” McClellin’s absence vaulted Jonathan Anderson and LaRoy Reynolds into significant playing time and cost the Bears “[McClellin’s] good play and he’s the quarterback of the defense,” Fangio said. “So we’ve missed that.”
The Bears are not necessarily counting on Forte, although the veteran running back was walking around without crutches or knee supports. If he is a scratch on Monday, the focus will shift to rookie Jeremy Langford, the team’s fourth-round pick in this year’s draft.
Forte’s role then would shift to that of assistant coach/advisor.
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"Matt's a leader on this football team,” said coach John Fox. “He was voted captain offensively and he's been that kind of guy I think even before i got here. He's definitely been that guy since we've been here and I think he'll continue to do that."
McPhee has been held out of practices in recent weeks but has started all seven games and last missed a game in 2012, a string of 44 consecutive games played.