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Bears notes: Five for Pro Bowl

LAKE FOREST – Two days after his 29th birthday and one day after Christmas, Bears cornerback Tim Jennings received another gift.

Jennings is headed to Honolulu, Hawaii, as a first-time Pro Bowl selection.

“I’ve never been to Hawaii,” Jennings said with a smile Wednesday at Halas Hall. “This will be the first time. I know my mom’s excited.”

Jennings and his mom will have a few experienced tour guides from the Bears.

Five Bears players were selected to the Pro Bowl, which will be played Jan. 27 at Aloha Stadium. Besides Jennings, the Bears will be represented by cornerback Charles Tillman, defensive end Julius Peppers, defensive tackle Henry Melton and wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Peppers earned his eighth Pro Bowl selection, while Tillman earned his second consecutive selection after missing out in each of his first eight seasons. Marshall earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection as the only representative from the offense, and Melton joined Jennings as first-time selections.

“Words can’t express how I feel right now,” Jennings said. “This is a good moment.

Grounded: Matt Forte (ankle) and Armando Allen (knee) missed practice Wednesday because of injuries, which left Kahlil Bell as the only healthy running back on the 53-man roster.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said he was optimistic that Forte would be able to play Sunday. Forte wore a walking boot after Sunday’s game at Arizona but vowed not to miss the finale.

“We’re hopeful, No. 1,” Smith said. “He didn’t finish the game, so that’s a concern. But his ankle is looking pretty good.

“This is a big football game, and they’re all big. We always play guys when they’re healthy and ready to go. Hopefully, that’ll be the case with Matt. He’s pretty encouraged by what’s happened.”

Streak ends: As Jennings celebrated his first Pro Bowl, linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs learned that they would not be headed to Hawaii.

Briggs’ absence snapped a streak of seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections that started after the 2005 season. Urlacher, who has been limited to 12 games because of a hamstring injury, missed the Pro Bowl for the fifth time in his 13-year career.

Bears bits: Besides Forte and Allen, four other players missed practice because of injuries: Urlacher (hamstring), Charles Tillman (ribs/elbow), Blake Costanzo (calf) and Chris Conte (hamstring). … The Bears signed safety Troy Nolan to provide depth if Conte is sidelined. Nolan has played in 37 games in parts of four seasons with Houston and Miami.


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