Bears/Packers game snapshot

The Chicago Bears head to Lambeau Field on Christmas Day for a showdown with their longtime rivals. We go over everything you need to know to prepare for this weekend's NFC North matchup.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET

GAMEDATE: 12/25/11

SURFACE: Natural grass

TV: NBC, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

The Bears turn to QB Josh McCown in search of better decision-making. Without a strong ground game, McCown will be tasked with navigating his way through the Packers' secondary that gives up yards in chunks but also leads the effort in Green Bay's 27 interceptions. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers shredded Chicago's Cover-Two in a 27-17 win at Chicago in Week 3. He misses WR Greg Jennings, but TE Jermichael Finley (three touchdowns in the first meeting) presents matchup problems that should lead to plenty of room for the wideouts to work downfield.

FAST FACTS: Bears DE Julius Peppers has 99 career sacks. ... Rogers is the fifth player in NFL history to throw for 40-plus touchdowns in a season.

Inside Packers Camp

Desmond Bishop stumbled over his words after the Packers' blowout win over the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 11 when a reporter had the gumption to ask the injured linebacker whether he felt his starting job might be in jeopardy.

"I don't know how to answer that question because you always have to be worried about your job," Bishop said. "There's always people out there trying to get your spot. It's not an individual thing. It's how you make the team better."

Bishop knows what it's like to be in the position rookie D.J. Smith has found himself the last three games as a fill-in starter at inside linebacker. Bishop was strictly a backup, save for one emergency start, his first three-plus years in the league until veteran Nick Barnett suffered a wrist injury in Week 4 of the 2010 season.

Barnett wound up missing the rest of the season, and Bishop took advantage by starting the last 16 games and helping the Packers win the Super Bowl.

The emergence of Bishop in a full-time role for the first time convinced team management to part with Barnett, a former first-round draft pick, before this season.

That proved to be a prudent decision as Bishop has been a playmaker with five sacks and a team-high 119 tackles. However, he aggravated a calf strain in the first half of the Thanksgiving win at the Detroit Lions on Nov. 24 and hasn't played since.

Bishop returned to practice this week, but whether he's able to play Sunday night against the Chicago Bears is a mystery. Bishop did just limited work Wednesday and Thursday.

"He was close to being a full participant in practice," head coach Mike McCarthy said after Thursday's workout. "I would definitely want to wait to see how he feels tomorrow morning and get through tomorrow's practice."

Bishop is eager to play again. Yet, the team may not have a sense of urgency to put him back out there this weekend or even the regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions on Jan. 1 for two reasons.

The first would be the Packers (13-1) could have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs locked up before Sunday's kickoff - they would clinch with a loss by the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.

The second reason for Green Bay to not feel compelled to rush Bishop's comeback is Smith has done a nice job in relief. The sixth-round draft pick has 30 tackles and an interception in his three-game stint as a starter.

Bishop said Thursday he hasn't been surprised by Smith's production, saying the rookie started making a favorable impression in training camp.

Suffice it to say, Bishop will regain his starting job when he's deemed healthy enough to play again, but he knows from his own past experiences that Smith won't step aside so easy.

"It changes your motivation (to stay the starter) a little bit," Bishop said. "You have to keep finding things to hunt for, hunt down, because a young guy, hungry, he's a hunter. I've been in that situation. All I can do is keep trying to hunt higher goals and keep moving forward."

PERSONNEL NEWS

Bears

--RB Marion Barber (calf) didn't practice for a second straight day and is beginning to look doubtful for Sunday, although he hasn't been ruled out yet.

--LB Lance Briggs (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday but he is expected to play on Sunday.

--WR Devin Hester (ankle) didn't practice for the second straight day on Thursday and is looking questionable for Sunday. He's been nagged by the same injury for weeks and his production has diminished considerably.

--QB Jay Cutler (thumb) hasn't practiced and won't play.

--RB Matt Forte (knee) hasn't practiced and won't play.

--DT Henry Melton (shin) was limited and he looks like he'll be probable for Sunday.

--TE Kellen Davis (back) was limited and he should play if he doesn't have any setbacks between now and Sunday.

Packers

--RB James Starks went through the full practice Thursday for the second straight day and looks to be on track to play Sunday night against the Chicago Bears. Starks, the team's leading rusher, has missed the last two games because of an aggravated ankle injury.

--DE Ryan Pickett still hasn't practiced this week, making it unlikely he will be available Sunday. The veteran starter has been sidelined since he suffered a concussion in the Dec. 11 win over the Oakland Raiders.

--DE Howard Green was added to the injury report and had limited work in practice Thursday because of an unspecified foot injury that flared up, according to head coach Mike McCarthy. Green will be re-evaluated Friday before a determination is made on his status for Sunday's game. The veteran run stuffer has been playing more the last couple games, especially with Pickett out.

--DE Mike Neal was on a limited practice schedule for the second straight day as he nurses a shoulder injury he sustained in the loss at the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The backup's status is up in the air for this weekend.

--RB Brandon Saine was upgraded from limited to full status in practice Thursday and has a decent chance of playing Sunday. The rookie missed the last game because of a concussion.

--LT Chad Clifton was restricted to individual drills in practice for the second straight day in his return to the field this week. The veteran starter had been out since early October because of a torn hamstring and then a back injury. Clifton isn't expected to be available for game action Sunday, but the team hasn't ruled him out. Marshall Newhouse continues to be the starting replacement.


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