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Thursday, December 30, 2010
Earl Bennett misses practice

By Michael C. Wright
ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz returned to practice Thursday, along with linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.

But receiver Earl Bennett remained sidelined with an ankle injury. Bennett joined the team for the portion of practice open to the media, but he didn't wear a helmet during individual drills.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said Bennett would return to practice by the end of the week, and he expects the receiver to be available for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

"Earl Bennett is getting better each day, but he was not able to practice today," Smith said. "Hopefully, he'll make improvements tomorrow and we'll have him ready to go this week. The rest of our crew was able to practice and had a good practice, I might add."

Bennett injured his ankle during a three-catch outing against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 20. Bennett returned to catch only one pass in the team's win Sunday over the New York Jets.

The team disclosed on the official injury report that Kreutz's inactivity on Wednesday was not injury related. A 13-year veteran, Kreutz hasn't missed a game since the 2002 season, when he underwent surgery for appendix removal. He ranks third among active centers for consecutive starts with 133.

Tinoisamoa, meanwhile, has missed practice time recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, but he returned to the lineup against the Jets after missing five games. The team has erred on the side of caution in easing Tinoisamoa back into action.

Smith expects to have the entire roster at his disposal for Sunday's contest.

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