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Friday, December 21, 2012
DT Melton doubtful against Cardinals

By Jeff Dickerson

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith is optimistic that cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) will be available against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but the outlook on defensive tackle Henry Melton (chest) is less promising.

Melton is listed as doubtful on the official injury report and could miss his second straight game after hurt his shoulder/chest in first half of the Bears' 28-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 25.

Bennett, Jennings, linebacker Blake Costanzo (calf) and right tackle Jonathan Scott (hamstring) are all questionable.

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring) has been officially ruled out. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (hamstring), defensive end Shea McClellin (knee) and Geno Hayes (knee) are listed as probable.

"We are getting a few guys back, Tim Jennings, Earl Bennett, guys like that which should help an awful lot," Smith said.

Smith said the Bears are "concerned" about the calf injury Costanzo suffered in practice on Thursday. Costanzo performed well in his first career start at strong-side linebacker last week in place of Hayes, and is tied for the team lead with 11 special teams tackles.

"It would be a loss (to be without Costanzo)," Smith said. "He had a very football game last week for his first start. If he wasn't able to go, we'd have to do a little bit of shuffling in a couple of different areas."

In the event Scott is out, the Bears are expected to turn back to Gabe Carimi, who started the first 10 games of the season at right guard before being benched. Carimi eventually landed at right guard after Lance Louis suffered a season-ending knee injury, but the former first-round pick got pulled last week for performance-based reasons, the latest in a year full of setbacks. Carimi played in just two games as a rookie because of a knee injury that required several procedures to fix.

"Football is football, so wherever they need me at I'm going to play this year," Carimi said. "I'm feeling pretty good about it going into this game."

Carimi believes better days are ahead.

"I look at it this way: I can only look at myself and what I did, and I don't find what I did (to be) the level I'm used to playing," Carimi said. "I think next year will be a different story when I'm further away from my injury. I know I'm just playing a role right now, but I know next year I'm going to shake this all off me. I'm just going to feel good about it. I still feel like I played good football, not outstanding football, and I can take that criticism. I know that about myself. But I know I have that in me. The timing was wrong this year."