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Lake Forest- What kind of impact can Jerry Azumah have considering he missed basically all of training camp and the first month of the season? The Bears hope the answer is an immediate spark.

"A big boost. He's a Pro Bowler," Lovie Smith said about the return of Azumah.

Of course, Azumah earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season as a kick returner.

While Bernard Berrian has improved his kick average over the past few weeks, he'll move over for Azumah. The Bears offense has been a sore subject since Rex Grossman was carted off the field with a season-ending knee injury.

One could argue that Azumah's biggest impact will come in giving the offense a shorten field to work with, if he can match his 29.0 yard kick return average from a year ago.

However, Smith has as much praise for his coverage skills.

"I think he's as good as I've seen playing that nickel position. And of course the guys who have played the position in the past -- Ronde Barber down in Tampa, Aeneas Williams in St. Louis -- Jerry has as much talent as anyone I've seen really. So I think he's going to be special at it."

Smith stated earlier in the week that Azumah would start as soon as he's ready to play. There is a good chance that will come following the bye week when the Bears host Washington on Oct. 17th.

Azumah, who tied for the team lead with four interceptions last year, will also move to the nickel slot when the opponents go to three receiver sets. Meaning Mike Green will remain at strong safety fulltime making the secondary that much stronger.

"We can become a lot better defense. He's going to make us a lot better," Smith said.

R.W. McQuarters missed practice Wednesday, but it's more of a case of giving a veteran time to recoup rather than an injury concern. He pulled his hamstring two weeks before the regular season and also sprained his ankle.

Moving Up: Hunter Hillenmeyer worked with the first team defense at strong-side linebacker and according to Lovie Smith he made a smooth transition from the middle.

"I think it was a natural move for him today. He looked comfortable at the position out there today. He'll only get better," Smith said.

Smith added that if the Bears were playing Washington, Thursday, Hillenmeyer would get the starting nod, but that could easily change in the next 11 days.

" If I had to tell you who the starter was at those positions right now I would say that Hunter right now is that guy," Smith said. "We evaluate it every day. That's how we really do it."

Good Vibrations: The Bears locker room was relaxed on Wednesday. As players prepared for the team picture, there was talk of plans for the long weekend. Tommie Harris is attending the Oklahoma-Texas game, while Joe Odom is returning to his high school to have his number retired. Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto, Ill. will retire Odom's #20. In case you're wondering, Odom was a running back in high school and not a linebacker.

The Bears head coach has plans of his own.

"You've seen my kids about as much as I have. So I'm excited about going to St. Louis and see my son play too," Smith said.

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