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Adam Podlesh expresses concern about replacement officials

Adam Podlesh won’t play preseasfinale Thursday against Browns because hip-flexor injury. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

Adam Podlesh won’t play in the preseason finale Thursday against the Browns because of a hip-flexor injury. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:26AM

Punter Adam Podlesh still is a question mark for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 against the Indianapolis Colts because of a hip-flexor injury in his non-punting leg.

“No one has ruled [playing] out yet. It’s still a possibility,” Podlesh said Tuesday. “We’re going to be smart about how we can get myself back on the field.”

Coach Lovie Smith was just as vague.

“Have no idea when he’ll be back,” Smith sad. “He can’t punt the ball right now, but we’re encouraged by his progress.”

A bigger concern for Podlesh, the Bears’ union representative, is what type of game will be awaiting him. Replacement officials are expected to stay on the job in the regular season, and Podlesh has voiced teammates’ concerns about how they’ll affect play.

“The pace of play with this game, which will change from the preseason to the regular season, is a concern with new referees,’’ he said. “Let’s see if they can keep up, and foremost, they protect the players, keep them safe, which is something that the players and the NFL have been doing a whole lot to maintain. That’s a strong point of concern with the replacement referees. Not to say that they won’t be able to do it — it’s just a concern because it’s a question mark on if they will be able to handle that change of pace of play.’’

With Podlesh still on the shelf, Ryan Quigley (43.6 yards per punt) will handle the punting duties again Thursday against the Cleveland Browns.

Hidden Urlacher trick

According to Smith, Brian Urlacher and his scoped left knee “are making a lot of progress.”

“It’s kind of set up that way so [the media] don’t see a lot,” Smith said. “I will let you know that about him. I expect to see No.  54 out on the field next week in practice and playing against the Colts.’’

Stephen Paea (sprained left ankle) was held out of practice again and is a question mark for the opener. Chris Conte (shoulder) and Dom DeCicco (groin) were progressing enough to be ready for Week 1.

Preseason finale

Smith said most of the regulars won’t play against the Browns but there still are some positions to be won and players to prove a few things. Defensive tackle Brian Price will have a lot of eyes on him, in particular.

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