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Knee slows Peppers

LAKE FOREST – Bears defensive end Julius Peppers is more talented while injured than many NFL players are at 100 percent health.

The Bears might have to acknowledge that truth Sunday.

Peppers sprained his right knee during Monday’s game against the Detroit Lions, Bears coach Lovie Smith confirmed Wednesday. Peppers’ status is uncertain for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, but Smith said he was optimistic that the Pro Bowl pass-rusher would be able to play even if his practice was limited.

“[I] don’t know exactly when he’ll be able to go,” Smith said. “But hopefully by Friday he’ll be able to do some things, and he’ll be able to go this weekend.”

After a brief exit Monday, Peppers returned to the game and played through pain. He finished with two tackles and a quarterback pressure, a season low.

If Peppers can not go against the Vikings, fellow defensive ends Corey Wootton and Nick Reed could see more time. Wootton has played only one game because of knee and hand injuries, and Reed has nine tackles in five games.

Also ailing: Bears defensive tackle Matt Toeaina injured his knee in Monday’s game and would not have practiced Wednesday, Smith said.

The Bears participated in light workouts but will not conduct a full practice until today because they played a day later than usual against the Lions.

Toeaina has started the Bears’ first five games at nose tackle, where he has registered eight tackles and nine quarterback pressures. If he cannot play Sunday, veteran Anthony Adams and rookie Stephen Paea could fill his role.

Paea has been inactive for the Bears’ first five games, but Smith indicated that he could receive more playing time as the season continued.

Wait and see: The Bears promoted safety Anthony Walters from the practice squad to the 53-man roster this week, but the undrafted rookie’s role is up in the air.

Walters could replace recently released Winston Venable as a special teams contributor, and he also could earn snaps on defense.

Safety has been a trouble spot for the Bears, who also have Chris Harris, Brandon Meriweather, Major Wright and Chris Conte at the position.

“We see [Walters] every day, and we’ve liked what we’ve seen,” Smith said. “We’ll let it play out just to see how far it goes.”

Bears bits: NFL Network will premiere “Walter Payton: A Football Life” at 9 p.m. today. … Wide receiver Earl Bennett (chest) and right tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) remain sidelined because of injuries.


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