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Lion gamer? No, Brian Urlacher doubtful

Chicago Bears players (from left) Julius Peppers Brian Urlacher Patrick Mannelly line up for National Anthem before Chicago Bears 23-17

Chicago Bears players (from left) Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Patrick Mannelly line up for the National Anthem before the Chicago Bears 23-17 OT loss to the Seattle Seahawks on December 2, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 30, 2013 6:12AM

Linebacker Brian Urlacher’s return to practice for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury Dec. 2 against the Seattle Seahawks raised hopes that he might play Sunday against the Detroit Lions. But coach Lovie Smith wasn’t all that hopeful.

Officially, Urlacher is listed as doubtful. But he’s probably closer to out than questionable after not even practicing for nearly four weeks.

According to linebacker Nick Roach, Urlacher had ‘‘probably a handful’’ of reps in Friday’s practice.

‘‘I was encouraged that he was finally able to get on the practice field,’’ Smith said.

‘‘It’s not like we had a full-padded practice, but he was able to move around. He’s making the normal progress we thought he would make.

‘‘Brian doesn’t have to go through a full practice before we would play him. But we’re not to that point. We’re going to look at how he moves around and see how he feels [Saturday and Sunday].’’

Forte ready

Running back Matt Forte, who suffered a sprained ankle in last week’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals, expects to play. He’s listed as probable.

But the Bears aren’t taking any chances. With backup Armando Allen questionable with a knee injury, the Bears promoted Harvey Unga from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Defensive end Cheta Ozougwu was waived to make room for Unga on the active roster.

Safety Chris Conte (hamstring) and linebacker Blake Costanzo (calf) are out. Defensive tackle Henry Melton (chest), who missed the Arizona game, is questionable.

Forte, cornerbacks Tim Jennings (shoulder) and Charles Tillman (ribs/elbow) and tackle Jonathan Scott (hamstring) are probable.

For the Lions, defensive tackle Sammie Hill (toe) is out, tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) is doubtful and safety Louis Delmas (knee) and cornerback Chris Houston (hamstring) are questionable.

Trash talk OK

Smith, who usually prefers his players to avoid sparking the opposition with trash talk, said Melton’s war of words with Lions center Dominic Raiola was not an issue.

‘‘It’s a division opponent; we have a history with them,’’ Smith said. ‘‘I don’t think it matters at all, what they say [or] what we say. The game will be won on the football field. Not an issue at all [with] me.’’

History lesson

In 2008, the Bears also were 9-6 with a chance to make the playoffs with a road victory. But they lost 31-24 to the Houston Texans.

‘‘We looked at all the different scenarios, and we forgot the one that really mattered — us winning the game,’’ Smith said.

Smith said he mentioned that 2008 game to his team but didn’t dwell on it.

‘‘We [were] prepared last time, and we’re prepared this time,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We’re not going back on ’08 an awful lot. We’ve had a great week of practice. We feel like we’re prepared — like we felt we were prepared last week [for the Cardinals] to hopefully play the best game we’ve played this year.’’

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