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Surgery not needed on Alshon’s Jeffery’s broken right hand

Chicago Bears wide receiver AlshJeffery winces paafter catching touchdown pass during second half an NFL football game Sunday Oct. 7

Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery winces in pain after catching a touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

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Updated: November 10, 2012 6:22AM

Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery will not require surgery to repair a fracture in his right hand, but is expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks, according to a league source.

Jeffery scored a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter to give the Bears a 20-3 lead in a 41-3 victory Sunday in Jacksonville. But it’s unclear if he suffered the injury on that play. After he left the field, it was announced that he would not return with a hand injury.

Jeffery underwent an X-ray Monday and a cast was placed on his right hand.

Dr. Steve Shin, a hand-and-wrist specialist at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, didn’t have any issues with the timetable, although he doesn’t know the exact nature of the injury.

“Four to six weeks is a very reasonable period of time,” Dr. Shin said. “I don’t know where the fracture is and what bone is affected. But if it doesn’t need surgery, it’s probably a non-displaced, stable fracture that can be treated.”

A second-round pick out of South Carolina, Jeffery has emerged as a key part of the offense. He has 14 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Given the timetable, the Bears will have to consider whether to place him on the injured reserve, thus ending his season. But given his importance and that he can stay in shape by running, they might try to let him heal and return late in the season.

The Bears have been without key veteran Earl Bennett the last two games due to injury. But coach Lovie Smith said Bennett should be ready to go coming out of the bye.

One for the book

Catching up with the Bears record-setting rate of interception returns:

◆ Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are the first teammates in NFL history to have interception returns for touchdowns in consecutive games.

◆ Tillman’s 36-yard interception against the Jaguars was his eighth career touchdown (seven interceptions, one fumble recovery), breaking the franchise record held by safety Mike Brown (four interceptions, three fumble recoveries).

◆ The Bears’ defense has allowed 57 points and scored 35 for an NFL-leading 22 net points allowed (4.4 per game).

Looking ahead

The Bears’ next three opponents are a combined 4-11 — the Lions (2-3), Panthers (1-4) and Titans (1-4), but even if the Bears are 7-1 after playing the Titans in Nashville on Nov. 4, they’ll still have a long way to go.

Their second-half opponents are a combined 27-12 — the Texans (5-0), 49ers (4-1), Vikings (4-1), Seahawks (3-2), Vikings (4-1), Packers (2-3), Cardinals (4-1) and Lions (1-3).

Cutler has Carimi’s back

Quarterback Jay Cutler, who caused a stir when he challenged a struggling J’Marcus Webb during the Bears’ 23-10 loss to the Packers on Sept. 13, was supportive of right tackle Gabe Carimi, who struggled against the Jaguars on Sunday.

Carimi was called for holding and beaten for a sack, then had back-to-back false starts with the Bears at the Jaguars’ 3-yard line.

‘‘The thing I like about Gabe is that it’s really important to him. It matters to him,’’ Cutler said on his weekly radio show on WMVP-AM on Monday. ‘‘He’s one of those guys you really don’t have to say much to him.

‘‘When he gets beat ... he’s the first one there to say, ‘Hey, I’ll get him next time.’ Gabe’s going to be fine. That’s the last thing I’m worried about.’’

Room for improvement?

Besides their league-leading 17 takeaways (13 interceptions, four fumble recoveries) and five touchdowns, the Bears are sixth in the NFL in total yards allowed (291.2 per game) and fifth in yards allowed per play (4.7).

‘‘We’re not there yet. We have a lot of things to clean up and we can get a lot better,’’ defensive end Julius Peppers said. ‘‘I don’t want to diminish the fact that we put together an impressive second half [against the Jaguars], because it was great and showed a lot of character. But we’ve got to play better in the first half, so it’s not that close.’’

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