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Bears’ Chris Harris sits out practice, status unclear


Former Bear Greg Olsen (88) has gotten off strong start for his new team CarolinPanthers. | Bob Leverone~AP

Former Bear Greg Olsen (88) has gotten off to a strong start for his new team, the Carolina Panthers. | Bob Leverone~AP

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Updated: November 15, 2011 8:47AM



As they try to end a two-game losing streak, the Bears might have to do so without four key players.

Receiver Earl Bennett (chest), right tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) and tight end Matt Spaeth (calf) all missed practice for a second consecutive day. In addition, after fully participating on Wednesday, safety Chris Harris didn’t practice on Thursday.

Coach Lovie Smith said Harris’ hamstring was “a little sore.’’ Harris has missed the last two starts because of that injury.

“You’re always concerned when a guy misses a Thursday practice, but we have a little bit of time, still,” Smith said of Harris. “We have other guys to play if he can’t go, but hopefully he’ll be able to.”

While his status will be clearer today, Carimi and Bennett are not expected to play Sunday.

Bennett, who took a helmet to his chest in New Orleans Sept. 18, might, in fact, miss several more games.

He didn’t play in a loss to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday but indications are he’s expected to also miss the games against the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions.

The injury, though, isn’t expected to end his season.

The team’s primary slot receiver, Bennett was injured when Saints safety Roman Harper drilled him in the chest with his helmet at the end of a nine-yard catch. In the season opener, Bennett had two catches for 11 yards.

With him sidelined, undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher has stepped in, catching nine passes for 66 yards, including two touchdowns.

Olsen comes back

Through three games last season, Greg Olsen had 10 catches for 103 yards with two touchdowns for the Bears.

After being traded to the Panthers, he can only hope his numbers don’t dramatically dip, as they did a season ago.

Olsen has 12 catches for 169 yards with one touchdown, and his former teammates are wary of what he can do.

“It’ll be fun seeing Greg cross the middle,” Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “I’ll get a chance to cover him, get my hands on him a little bit, maybe get a chance to irritate him.

“But, hey, outside of that, it’s fun.”

Brian Urlacher said Olsen used to give him “fits” in practice, given his knowledge of the Bears’ defense.

“He’s got great hands, and he’s blocking well,” Urlacher said. “He’s done a good job in the blocking game and they move him around a lot.”

A Rivera fan

Urlacher said Panthers coach Ron Rivera was the “ultimate players coach,” when he was defensive coordinator of the Bears.

“You could talk to him about anything,” Urlacher said. “He would relay his message to you but not where it was demeaning to you. And you definitely got his message.”



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