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Bears offensive lineman Lance Louis out for rest of year with torn ACL

Jared Allen stands over Bears guard Lance Louis after blindsiding him. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Jared Allen stands over Bears guard Lance Louis after blindsiding him. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 28, 2012 6:27AM

An MRI exam on the left knee of Bears starting right guard Lance Louis revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament, according to a league source.

The Bears announced Monday that Louis was put on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season.

On the opening drive of the third quarter Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, quarterback Jay Cutler was off the mark on a pass to open receiver Brandon Marshall, who tipped the ball into the air. Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield intercepted it and sprinted down the left sideline. Louis was turning toward Winfield, who passed him, and he was blindsided by defensive end Jared Allen. As he crumbled to the ground, Louis’ left leg appeared to get caught in the turf.

Asked if the Allen hit was unnecessary, coach Lovie Smith said, “Unnecessary? Yes, I did. Jared Allen plays the game a certain way, a good player in our league. I think there are some plays when you look at them again, you say, ‘Hey, we could’ve done without that.’ I think our game could do without that play.”

Allen’s actions will be evaluated and subject to discipline.

“I thought it was a legal hit,” Allen said Sunday. “He’s running to make a tackle, so I just made a block. I’m never trying to hurt anybody.”

Louis has started all 11 games this season and 13 of the 14 he played in 2011. A seventh-round pick in 2009, Louis is a converted tight end who has emerged as arguably the team’s best offensive lineman.

His contract expires after this season.

“Lance has proven to be one of the top guards in the NFL, and it’s disappointing that his season has to come to an end,” agent Bruce Tollner said in a statement. “Lance will have a quick recovery and be back to playing at an elite level.”

Gabe Carimi, who was benched last week, replaced Louis at right guard, even though he’d never played the position. Another in-house option is Edwin Williams, a college center who has started at guard for the Bears.

The most obvious candidate would’ve been Chilo Rachal, who started eight games after signing as an unrestricted free agent. But Rachal left the team and was put on the reserve/non-football-injury list, effectively ending his tenure with the Bears.

Last week, the Bears signed guard Chris Riley, who played at Illinois State, to the practice squad. Another option could be Ricky Henry, a guard who appeared in one game for the Bears last season and is on the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad.

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