Devin Hester questionable vs. Packers

Updated: December 23, 2011, 4:20 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Despite officially listing Devin Hester as questionable for Sunday's matchup with the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith expressed concern about his availability, adding that running back Marion Barber is doubtful.

"I'm concerned. [He] hasn't practiced all week; hasn't done much," Smith said of Hester. "Of course Marion Barber, too. Two key players for us [could be out]. [We] have a little bit of time still before the game, but it's not looking real good."

Barber's expected absence means third-year running back Kahlil Bell will start his second game in three weeks. Bell started against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 11, and rushed for 40 yards on nine attempts. Bell scored his first career touchdown last week on a 25-yard reception against the Seahawks, and ran the ball on a career-high 15 attempts.

Hester, meanwhile, has been plagued by nagging injuries in recent weeks. Hester tweaked his ankle last Thursday at practice in preparation for the team's Dec. 18 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Earl Bennett would likely fill in for Hester on punts, and with Johnny Knox out, Bell or recently-activated running back Armando Allen could be called upon for kick-return duties.

"I've been banged up all week with injuries," Hester said.

Lance Briggs (ankle) and Henry Melton (shin) are listed as questionable.

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNchicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter