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Lovie Smith has confidence in the Bears’ fill-in return men

Chicago Bears v PhiladelphiEagles

Chicago Bears v Philadelphia Eagles

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Updated: December 13, 2011 9:09AM



The Detroit Lions might catch a break if Devin Hester, who is questionable after not ­practicing the last two days, doesn’t play Sunday.

But they can’t be too relieved because the Bears have two other players who have scored return touchdowns.

“We’re confident,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “There’s only one Devin Hester. No one has ­anyone like him. But without him, we’ll have another very good returner to replace him.”

Bears receiver Johnny Knox went to the Pro Bowl after the 2009 season, averaging 29 yards per kickoff and returning one 102 yards for a touchdown. Earl Bennett is averaging 10.7 yards per punt return for his career, and he returned one in 2009 for a 49-yard touchdown.

“If I get in, I know what to do, so it shouldn’t be strange to me,” Knox said.

Smith, though, wouldn’t rule Hester out.

“We’re still hopeful for Devin. It’s never good when a player doesn’t practice,” Smith said. “But if he’s ready to go Sunday, there’s still a chance we’ll let him go.”

Knox said he was disappointed that he and Hester couldn’t get much going against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday. Hester did have a 19-yard punt return, but he averaged an abysmal 10 yards on three kickoff returns. Knox, though, wasn’t much better, averaging 10.5 on two.

“We struggled back there. We just didn’t get anything going. That’s not us,” Knox said. “We just want to get back there and do what we can do.”

The Bears worked on the high, shallow kickoffs that the Eagles employed.

While Corey Graham had a key forced fumble that Sam Hurd recovered, Bears special-teams coordinator Dave Toub wasn’t pleased with his unit’s overall effort.

The Eagles were in a position to convert a fourth down on a fake punt. But rookie Chas Henry’s pass was well short.

“It was a good call by [Eagles special teams coordinator] Bobby April,” Toub said. “We’re lucky that he threw it in the dirt. We didn’t have a good day.”

Toub said that he and his players didn’t adjust well to the short kickoffs and that at least one player got beat on each one.

Carimi has surgery

Rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi had a knee scope Friday, the team announced.

Carimi has missed the last six games with a partially dislocated right kneecap.

Smith indicated that Carimi will not be put on injured reserve, which would end his season.

“Don’t know the extent of it. We just know he had a minor scope done,” Smith said. “Minor.”

‘Izzy Style’ burger

Defensive end Israel Idonije is hosting a charity event for his foundation at the Rock Bottom Brewery at 1 W. Grand Ave. during “Monday Night Football.”

There will be a silent auction, and guests can try a special “Izzy Style” burger, which could include a turkey burger, fries, cheese and ketchup on a bun.

Proceeds will benefit the Israel Idonije Foundation.

“It’s going to be a good time,” he said.



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