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Bears’ Chris Harris to miss start on Sunday due to hamstring

Veteran safety Chris Harris (46) will sit out Sunday might miss game Oct. 10 against Lions. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

Veteran safety Chris Harris (46) will sit out Sunday and might miss the game on Oct. 10 against the Lions. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: November 15, 2011 9:32AM

Safety Chris Harris will miss his third consecutive start Sunday, and he could miss his fourth in Detroit.

Harris fully participated in practice Wednesday, but he had a setback to his left hamstring, which sidelined him the last two days at Halas Hall.

“Yeah, it’s disappointing not being able to play,” Harris said after practice Friday, in expressing his disappointment about playing the Carolina Panthers. “But we’ve got the guys who can get the job done, and they will get the job done on Sunday.”

Brandon Meriweather and Major Wright are expected to start.

“[Harris is] the leader of the group,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We just kind of miss him with big plays. But hopefully if he can’t go, it’s time for some of those other players to step up.”

So far, though, none of the other players has. Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, is getting acclimated to the defense, although he did have a solid game against the Green Bay Packers. But Craig Steltz struggled against the Packers, and Wright ­ who missed last Sunday’s game — didn’t shine in the first two games.

“I’m good, and I’m ready to go,” Wright said. “I’m just excited and ready to play.”

An All-Pro last season, after collecting five interceptions, Harris has been one of the team’s most dependable veterans.

‘‘He’s a guy who helps us go,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. ‘‘He’s a general back there, and I look at him in the same respect that I looked at Mike Brown when he was here. He’s a playmaker. He’s a guy that we need on the field.”

But, that won’t be on Sunday. And perhaps not on Monday Oct. 10 in Detroit at Ford Field, either.

Harris said hamstrings are “tricky,” noting that he doesn’t want to rush back too soon lest he be sidelined even longer.

“If you do rush it, you’ll find yourself back at Square 1,” Harris said. “So it’s just kind of being smart with it.”

Barber ready to go

After weeks of anticipation, it looks as if running back Marion Barber will make his Bears regular-season debut Sunday. Barber has been out since suffering a calf injury in the preseason against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 27.

‘‘We’re trying to get the running game going a little bit better. Having a guy like that should help in spot duty,’’ Smith said. ‘‘I know he’s excited. Hopefully we get some production from him.’’

Injury list

Smith said wide receiver Earl Bennett (chest bruise) and tackle Gabe Carimi (dislocated knee) will not play Sunday. Both will miss their second consecutive game.

Tight end Matt Spaeth (calf) did not practice Friday and is questionable. Running back Kahlil Bell (back), Wright (head/neck), long-snapper Pat Mannelly (hip) are probable.

For the Panthers, starting cornerback Chris Gamble (head) is doubtful. Tackle Jeff Otah (back) is questionable. Safety Charles Godfrey (head) and defensive end Charles Johnson (personal) are probable.

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