BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Linebacker Brian Urlacher was excused from practice again on Tuesday for personal reasons while receiverreturner Devin Hester was out with sickness, according to coach Lovie Smith. Neither is expected to play on Thursday against the Denver Broncos.
Receiver Eric Weems (ankle) was dressed for practice but did not take an active part in basically a half-speed session without pads for the first time in a week.
The absence of veterans (several others are expected to see little or no playing time on Thursday) is an opportunity for roster hopefuls under game conditions. Daily practices the past several days have concluded with live hitting between reserve offenses and defenses, but this will be different. Far different.
Just getting guys into the game, in a game situation, said coach Lovie Smith. Even for the veterans, were starting over a new year. Everybody for the most part will play a little bit.
We havent decided exactly how many reps everyone will get. We just want to keep the evaluations going. We have some tough decisions to make on the 53-man roster, on who starts, all of those things. Thats what were looking for.
Many happy returns?
Hesters absence plus concern over Weems ankle will allow the Bears to get closer looks at returners among a number of roster candidates who need strong special-teams showings to secure jobs.
Among those in particular to watch are seventh-round draft choice and cornerback Greg McCoy and undrafted free agent receiver Brittan Golden. The latters best shot, given the depth at receiver on the Bears, may lie with another NFL team eventually but he has made a strong early impression.
Hes fast. Well get a look at him as a returner, may get punt returns, but definitely kick returns, said special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. Hes still working on his catching skills. But hes pretty exciting after the catch. He can run.
High School Lites is back with an exciting Week 9 full of thrilling matchups. NBC Sports Chicago has the highlights of some of the top matchups from Friday's games.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights.
DRIVE: Batavia (episode 9)
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Oak Forest football
VIEWERS' CHOICE GAMES OF THE WEEK: Fremd runs past Schaumburg
WINTRUST ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Notre Dame running back Ty Gavin
FRIDAY'S TOP 25 SCORES
(1) Lincoln-Way East 31, (16) Bolingbrook 0
(2) Batavia 24, Wheaton North 13
(3) Brother Rice 31, (17) Montini 0
(4) Marist 24, Benet 7
(6) Homewood-Flossmoor 56, Sandburg 0
(7) Cary-Grove 55, (15) Naperville Central 41
(9) Nazareth Academy 42, Marian Catholic 6
(10) Maine South 48, Niles West 6
(11) Oswego 22, Plainfield South 15
(12) Richards 41, Eisenhower 6
(13) Phillips 41, Raby 0
(14) Willowbrook 42, Downers South 20
(18) Oak Park-River Forest 48, Lyons 0
(19) Warren 43, Mundelein 7
(20) Glenbard West 35, Proviso West 6
(21) Hillcrest 43, Bremen 6
Joliet Catholic 33, (22) Notre Dame 17
(23) Hinsdale Central 21, Hinsdale South 12
(24) Rolling Meadows 34, Buffalo Grove 7
Wheaton Warrenville South 13, (25) St. Charles North 11
Payton 43, Kenwood 42
Coal City 43, Lisle 14
Huntley 55, Dundee-Crown 12
Perspectives 32, Solorio 16
SATURDAY'S TOP 25 GAMES
Fenwick vs. (5) Mount Carmel
(8) Simeon vs. Curie
Chris Emma, Matt Zahn and Gabe Ramirez join David Kaplan on the panel.
0:00- NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the panel to discuss the Bulls’ terrible defensive performance as well as Zach LaVine’s impressive season debut.
11:35- Khalil Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Can the Bears pull off the upset against Tom Brady?
23:50- NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran joins Kap to talk about how New England views the Bears and discuss how Matt Nagy’s team can exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.