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Hayden to replace injured Jennings

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 7, 2012 – 1:46 pm

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings did not practice Friday and was ruled out of Sunday’s game in Minnesota with a shoulder injury he sustained in last weekend’s overtime loss to the Seahawks.

With Jennings out, veteran Kelvin Hayden will make his first start of the season. The Chicago native signed with his hometown team in April after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Colts (2005-10) and Falcons (2011), appearing in 85 games with 47 starts.

“Kelvin has played a lot of ball,” said coach Lovie Smith. “This is not his first time starting or anything like that. Tim eventually will be back, but in the meantime Kelvin will step up.”

Hayden was selected by the Colts in the second round of the 2005 draft. The highlight of his career came in Super Bowl XLI when he intercepted a Rex Grossman pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown to help lead Indianapolis to a 29-17 win over the Bears.

“He’s been in this system,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. “Not just here, but in Indy. He understands the system. He’s a good player. It’s his chance to step up and really go right now. He’s started in a Super Bowl and all of those things. He’s going to do fine.”

In other injury news, receivers Alshon Jeffery (knee) and Devin Hester (concussion) practiced without restrictions Friday and were listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Jeffery has missed six of the last seven games, while Hester sat out last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.

“Early in the week they were a little banged up,” Smith said. “Each day it got a little bit better. Today for the most part they were able to do most of the stuff that we ask them to do.”

Running back Michael Bush (ribs), defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot) and guard Chris Spencer (knee) were limited and listed as questionable, but all three are expected to be available Sunday.

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Bears won’t retaliate against Allen

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 7, 2012 – 12:45 pm

Two weeks ago in a 28-10 win over the Vikings, Bears guard Lance Louis suffered a season-ending knee injury when he was blindsided by defensive end Jared Allen during an interception return.

Although the Bears viewed the vicious block as a cheap shot, they have no plans to retaliate in Sunday’s rematch against Allen, who was fined $21,000 by the NFL for the illegal hit.

“I don’t see that happening,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “There’s been no talk of that, and that’s not how you play the game. You play the game in between the whistles. I don’t teach that kind of stuff, never have. You’ve never seen any stories about my guys chop-blocking or anything like that. We don’t teach that.”

Allen has repeatedly insisted that he wasn’t trying to hurt Louis.

“I have no way of foreseeing that his knee is going to go, but I understand why people would get upset,” Allen said. “I apologized for the fact that I ended his season. You never want any of that to happen. I play the game pure. The guys around the league who know me know that I play hard. I play to the whistle and I’m not a malicious guy.

“I’ve never tried to intentionally hurt a guy on the field. Unfortunately it happened, and like I said my condolences to him and his family. We had an interception coming up the sideline, and he’s running toward it to make a tackle and I threw a block. Unfortunately something bad happened.

“If roles were reversed and I was running to make a tackle and I got blindsided by an offensive lineman or a receiver, I’m pretty sure people would be celebrating it. That’s not the case, and so it is what it is. He got hurt and that sucks. But again it’s never the intent.”

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Hayes to lean on experience Sunday

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 7, 2012 – 12:02 pm

Jason Campbell, Michael Bush and Kelvin Hayden weren’t the only backups the Bears signed in free agency this year who had started for other NFL teams.

Another was Geno Hayes, who will draw upon the experience he gained the past four seasons with the Buccaneers when he makes his first start of the season Sunday in Minnesota.

Hayes, who made 42 starts for Tampa Bay, joins the No. 1 defense at strongside linebacker in place of Nick Roach, who moves to middle linebacker in place of the injured Brian Urlacher.

“This is not my first time around; this is not my first rodeo,” Hayes said. “It’s a great opportunity. Any time you get the opportunity to step on the field and make plays, it’s big.”

Hayes became the Buccaneers’ starting weakside linebacker in his second NFL season in 2009, replacing 11-time Pro Bowler Derrick Brooks. Last season Hayes started 13 of 16 games played for Tampa Bay, recording 86 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss, one interception and two forced fumbles.

Hayes, who signed a one-year contract with the Bears, isn’t looking at his chance to play as an audition for a new deal next season.

“I try to not think about those things,” Hayes said. “I just want to go out there and play ball. Contract stuff is for after the season. Right now I have to go out and do my job.”

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