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Linebacker Von Miller will play against Bears

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

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Updated: January 11, 2012 8:13AM

The way the Bears’ luck has been running lately, there was never a doubt. But Denver Broncos coach John Fox made it official, anyway: Von Miller is ready to go.

Miller, the rookie linebacker who’s fifth in the NFL with 101/2 sacks, will play with a protective cover on his injured right thumb against the Bears on Sunday. Miller missed last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings after having surgery to repair ligament damage in the thumb.

‘‘He helps our pass rush,’’ Fox said Friday. ‘‘He’s a force there, and we’re happy to have him back.’’

Fox doesn’t think Miller will be hindered by having a cast on his right hand.

‘‘He’ll make do,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re going to protect it first. He’s learned to deal with it this week. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job Sunday.’’

The No. 2 pick in the draft, Miller, by any definition, is a difference-maker. With Miller out last week, the Vikings gained 489 yards and scored 31 points — without Adrian Peterson. With Miller, the Broncos’ defense had allowed an average of 307 yards and 13 points in its three previous games.

‘‘He’s a phenomenal player,’’ Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice said. ‘‘If you watch [at practice], we’ve got a guy with a red 58 jersey on. We’re going to know where he is at all times.’’

Praise for LBs

Willis McGahee, ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing (886 yards, 4.9 average), has plenty of respect for the Bears’ linebackers, particularly Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

“They’re fast to the ball,” McGahee said, “and [they haven’t lost] a step like they’re old.”

So how does the Bears’ linebacker group stack up against other units he has faced?

“I played some good linebackers this season,” McGahee said, “but not like [that group].”

Hester alert

The longest punt return the Broncos have given up is only 29 yards.

But punter Britton Colquitt is very wary of Devin Hester. In his mind, what makes Hester so dangerous is that there isn’t an ideal place for him to kick the ball.

“There’s not many balls he’s not going to try and return,’’ Colquitt said. ‘‘He’s unbelievable. He’s the best, and he’s going to be a Hall of Famer.

“I just hope we don’t have to kick much. We’d like to keep him out of the game.”

Asked if he’d kick to Hester, cornerback Champ Bailey said, “Not in a million years.”

Wright out

Safety Major Wright (sprained shoulder) will not play. Craig Steltz will start in his place. Quarterback Jay Cutler (broken thumb) and running back Matt Forte (sprained knee) are the only other players on the injury list.

For the Broncos, McGahee (knee) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (concussion) are questionable.

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