The Chicago Bears won't be home for Christmas. However, if they don't find a way to upset the Green Bay Packers on Christmas night? They'll be home for the playoffs.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith received more discouraging news in regards to the health of the remaining players on the Bears' roster. Devin Hester has always been a threat as a return specialist against the Packers' suspect special-teams coverage units. The Bears need him because of injuries and legal issues that have decimated the receiving unit.
Hester missed the entire week of practice with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable as of December 23, 2011. Smith claimed that the chances of Hester playing weren't looking very good. The injury would force Earl Bennett into the role of punt return specialist.
Here are a few other key players who may be sidelined for the Bears as they fight to keep their slim playoff hopes alive on Christmas night.
Jay Cutler (Out)
Jay Cutler is still recovering from surgery that he had on a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Following a 7-3 start with Cutler, the Bears have lost four consecutive games with Caleb Hanie as his replacement. Josh McCown will get the start as he's only completed two passes since the 2007-08 season.
Matt Forte (Out)
Matt Forte suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Forte has been ruled out for this game. He was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage before the injury. This will force McCown to make some plays in the passing game.
Johnny Knox (Out)
The Chicago Bears lost their go-to receiver after he was placed on injured reserve with a back injury earlier this week. Knox would've been the return specialist had Hester not played. Bears special-teams coordinator Dave Toub will likely rely on Earl Bennett and Armando Allen if Hester can't play.
Marion Barber (Doubtful)
Along with Matt Forte, Marion Barber is also expected to miss this game with a calf injury. Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen would receive the majority of carries in their absences. Allen may also handle the kickoff return duties if Hester can't play. This will be Bell's second career start.
Lance Briggs (Questionable)
Lance Briggs was a limited participant during practice on Friday. Henry Melton and Briggs are game-time decisions.
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