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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Khalil Bell out with ankle injury

By Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell left Thursday's game with an ankle injury in the first half of Thursday's 24-14 loss against the Cleveland Browns, while safety Craig Steltz hobbled off the field with a hip injury.

The Bears' safety depth was further weakened in the third quater when rookie third-round pick Chris Conte left with a head injury. Conte and Steltz are listed as the Bears' backup safety combination behind starters Chris Harris and Major Wright.

While the extent of the injuries weren't immediately known, the club announced all three players would be held out for the rest of the game. In Conte's case, the NFL has instructed all 32 NFL teams to be extra cautious when it comes to dealing with potential concussions.

Making a strong push for the job of the No. 3 running back, Bell carried eight times for 26 yards before leaving the game with the injury. He was replaced by rookie Robert Hughes, a Notre Dame product.

"I feel like I could (have kept playing), but I didn't really do any running afterward," Bell said. "The trainer just told me to shut it down and ice it up. So I'm good. I'll get some treatment and get it worked on throughout the week. We've got some days to rest and I can stay off my feet. Come next Sunday, I should be good."

Steltz suffered his injury trying to make a tackle on a running play in the second quarter.

"I think it's going to be OK," Steltz said after the game. "It's feeling a lot better now."

A third-year veteran, Bell impressed with strong performances earlier in the preseason, and could force the Bears to release veteran Chester Taylor on Saturday when the club cuts down to its final 53-man roster for the regular season.

"I think I did pretty well (in the preseason)," Bell said. "There are always things to improve on, as any athlete can tell you. When you watch film and critique yourself, there are always things you think you can do better."

Conte, a rookie out of California, impressed the coaching staff during training camp, and was counted on to be a primary contributor on special teams.

"I just took a little shot in the head and was a little out of it for a little bit," Conte said. "I lost my legs during the series a little bit, but I'll be all right. It was more precautionary. They gave me words and stuff to remember and I could remember everything, so it was more precautionary, they just didn't want to take a chance of me getting hit in the head or something like that again. I'll be fine."

The injuries to Conte and Steltz could open the door for undrafted rookie Winston Venable to make the final 53-man roster.

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson was used in this report.