Three Starters Remain Questionable

Lake Forest - Head coach Lovie Smith has said that he would like injured players to practice at least once in order to be able to suit up. With several players still hobbled, he might bend that guideline on Sunday against the Vikings.

Although RB Thomas Jones remains questionable with a mild right knee sprain, he practiced for the first time all week on Friday. The workout was relatively light and wasn't fully padded, but Jones did enough to make Smith think there's an improvement from earlier in the week.

"He looked good," Smith said. "He hasn't practiced all week, but it's not like he was limping or anything like that. I thought he looked good and we'll kind of take it from there."

Jones is fourth in the NFC in rushing with 413 yards and has three consecutive 100-yard efforts. The five-foot-10, 220-pounder doesn't want to sit in a pivotal divisional game nor give Cedric Benson a chance to impress the coaches with a solid performance against the worst rush defense in the NFL.

"It's a big game and if I'm able to play I want to play," Jones said. "I want to be out there and make plays and help us win."

It's a different story on the offensive line, where both LT John Tait (ankle) and LG Ruben Brown (pectoral) failed to practice this week and remain questionable.

"I would like for the guy to get at least one practice in in order for him to play, but it's not like that's 100 percent," Smith said. "If we have a player that we feel like can help us win and he's ready to go Sunday, we'll play him if that's the case, so we'll just have to wait and see about it."

Between the two, Tait would be the more likely to give it go. The thinking is that if Tait is even 70 percent, that's better than the Bears' backups, which include John St. Clair and Qasim Mitchell. Brown is unlikely to be rushed back since his backup, Roberto Garza, is a solid fill-in.

In a week that the Bears may try to look down field in the passing game, keeping Kyle Orton is a top priority Smith feels even the reserve linemen can handle.

"John St. Clair is a good football player," Smith said. "I've been around him. I've known him for a long time. I know what type of warrior he is, and Roberto Garza we've said all along was like a starter for us. Both guys finished the game last week and we expect them to pick up this week where they left off last."

DT Tommie Harris (ankle) and CB Nathan Vasher (knee) returned to practice on Friday and were removed from the injury report.

However, TE Desmond Clark missed a second straight day of practice and has been downgraded to questionable because of an illness. If he were unable to go then John Gilmore would be the next in line to start.


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