Bears RB Forte expects to start against Lions


LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte expects to start Sunday against the Bears despite an ankle injury suffered last week.

Forte went through a full practice Friday and was listed as probable for the game at Detroit, which the Bears will need to win if they have any shot at making the playoffs.

The team also announced Friday it had waived defensive end Cheta Ozougwu and promoted running back Harvey Unga to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. That gives the Bears two healthy running backs besides Forte. Kahlil Bell is the other backup.

Linebacker Brian Urlacher is doubtful for the Lions game, although he went through a limited practice Friday in his first workout since before suffering a hamstring injury Dec. 2.

“I was encouraged that he was finally able to get on the practice field, and it’s not like we had a full-padded practice today, though,” coach Lovie Smith said. “But he was able to move around, which we thought he would be able to do. The normal progress we hoped he would make, he has made. Brian doesn’t have to necessarily practice a full practice before we would play him, but we’re not to that point.”

Urlacher did get some snaps with the first team during the scrimmage portion of practice, but only a handful according to linebacker Nick Roach, who has played the past three games in Urlacher’s place.

Urlacher has no contract for next season. So unless he makes a dramatic comeback before Sunday or the Bears get into the playoffs, Urlacher could have already played his last game for the team.

Forte sprained his right ankle early in the second half of Sunday’s 28-13 win over Arizona — the third time he’s had the same injury this year.

“I know it is going to be painful, especially when you get tackled and hit on,” he said. “It will be just like the Dallas game, when I got hit on the first play and I just had to get retaped.”

Starting safety Chris Conte (hamstring) and backup linebacker Blake Costanzo (calf) did not practice Friday. They are listed as out for the game. That means Anthony Walters will make his first NFL start in Conte’s place. Running back Armando Allen (knee) also missed practice and is questionable.

Packers WR Nelson

probable for Sunday’s game

The availability of receiver Randall Cobb for the regular-season finale at division rival Minnesota on Sunday is uncertain. While Jordy Nelson is probable to play after being out the last three games because of a hamstring injury, Cobb is questionable after he had limited work in practice Friday.

“We had a menu set for him as far as going through a workout,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He was able to accomplish that. He did some (kick) returns. He took some practice reps. So we’ll see how he is in the morning. He looked pretty good.”

The Packers (11-4) would clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs by beating the Vikings (9-6), who are vying for a wild-card berth.

Cobb suffered ankle and knee injuries in Green Bay’s 55-7 win over Tennessee last Sunday. The versatile second-year player leads the Packers in catches (80) and receiving yards (954), has eight touchdown receptions, has been utilized on run plays out of the backfield and also has been a big-play threat as a kick returner.

Cobb didn’t talk to reporters after practice Friday afternoon.

“He looked like he was good,” receiver Jeremy Ross said. “You can tell the injury is still present, but he looked like he was running pretty good.”

Ross, a first-year player who has been on Green Bay’s 53-man roster only four weeks, spent most of the week handling the kickoff and punt returns in practice as Cobb recovered. He had a 58-yard punt return in Cobb’s absence against the Titans.

“If Randall’s unable to perform, then I’ll be the guy to do the returns (Sunday),” Ross said. “I would be excited to have that opportunity to get out (there) and take over the returns.”

McCarthy expects to have Nelson back in the mix with Green Bay’s talented receiving corps. The fifth-year player aggravated a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the Packers’ 23-14 home win over Minnesota on Dec. 2.

49ers TE Davis practices

again after concussion

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Vernon Davis is anxious to get back on the field with the San Francisco 49ers and help them build momentum for the playoffs during Sunday’s regular-season finale against Arizona.

He still has to be cleared to play first.

Davis practiced in a noncontact black jersey for the second consecutive day Friday and is taking the necessary steps, according to NFL-mandated protocol, to return from a concussion he sustained during last week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers have a pressing need for their starting tight end to return after the team placed starting wide receiver Mario Manningham on injured reserve early Friday, leaving San Francisco without its second-leading receiver for the rest of the season.

Manningham tore knee ligaments after catching a pass in the third quarter of San Francisco’s 42-13 loss at Seattle. Davis was hurt in the first quarter after absorbing a crushing hit from safety Kam Chancellor that dislodged the football from Davis near the goal line. Davis left the game after that play and did not return.

Chancellor was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Davis said Friday the hit was “brutal” and one of the hardest he ever has taken in seven NFL seasons. Davis, who gained clearance from an independent neurologist and the 49ers’ team physician to resume noncontact activity Thursday, could be cleared to play if he passes the final step in protocol — contact simulation — before Sunday’s game.

“Tomorrow he’ll go through the final progression,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday. “He’s on course, but that’s something the doctors have full control over.”

When asked if he felt 100 percent recovered, Davis said, “I’m all right.” But he made clear his intention to play against the Cardinals as the 49ers look to clinch their second consecutive NFC West title. San Francisco also can capture the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs with a win Sunday and a Green Bay loss at Minnesota.

Jaguars RB Jones-Drew

has foot surgery

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is having surgery on his left foot and will be out at least until May.

The Jaguars (2-13) placed Jones-Drew on injured reserve Friday, two days before the season finale at Tennessee.

But keeping him on the active roster for two months after the Oct. 21 injury — and during the worst season in franchise history — surely creates questions about whether the team botched the whole thing.

Coach Mike Mularkey said Jones-Drew ran again Monday and complained of soreness, so the team sent him to Charlotte, N.C., for a checkup. Renowned foot specialist Dr. Bob Anderson told the Jaguars that the foot wasn’t healing as well as expected, so they opted for surgery.

Mularkey said Jones-Drew will be “hopefully back by May, late May, early June.”

Holliday doubtful, Porter

out for Broncos-Chiefs

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kick returner Trindon Holliday is doubtful for the Denver Broncos’ season finale against Kansas City because of a sprained ankle.

The injury has sidelined him all week and prevented him from working on ways to cut down on fumbling. He has five fumbles on returns to go with touchdowns on a punt return and a kickoff return.

Coach John Fox said the cure for that is “you just practice. You work on it. No different than a running back or quarterback as far as in the pocket, receivers after they catch the ball. Anytime you have that ball, you have the other 10 guys’ best interest in hand. It’ll be something that we’ll continue to work on.”

Jimmy Leonhard is expected to handle punt returns and Omar Bolden the kickoff returns if Holliday doesn’t play Sunday against the Chiefs.

Cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) was ruled out for Sunday. He was injured last week just three snaps into his first game since Oct. 7. He had been sidelined after experiencing symptoms similar to those he had before a seizure during training camp.

“That’s so unfortunate because he’s been waiting for this opportunity to get back in there. And I just hope he’s OK. I think he will be but only time will tell,” cornerback Champ Bailey said.

Right guard Chris Kuper is 50-50 for Sunday after participating on a limited basis for the second straight day. He’s been sidelined with a sprained left ankle and migraines.

Fox said he wasn’t worried about Kuper’s availability heading into the playoffs.

“He practiced for the first time yesterday and then today. I think he’s making good progress,” Fox said. “He’s been out for a little bit. We’re just going to make sure he’s ready to play football and we’ll make that decision day to day.”

Kuper has played in just six games this season. He missed the first month with a broken forearm and five of the last seven games after spraining his left ankle, the same one in which he tore ligaments in a gruesome injury on New Year’s Day.

Fox said he was pleased with the progress of running back Willis McGahee, who went on recallable IR after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Nov. 18 when he was tackled low by San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer.

McGahee is eligible to return to practice next week after missing the final six regular-season games but won’t be available to play again unless the Broncos (12-3) reach the AFC championship.

“All indications are it’s on schedule and he’s getting better every day,” Fox said of McGahee’s rehab. “He won’t be ready here anytime real soon but we’ll evaluate that as we get going and finish up the regular season.”

Bess ruled out of Dolphins’ finale at New England

DAVIE, Fla. — Receiver Davone Bess has been ruled out of the Miami Dolphins’ season finale Sunday at New England because of a back injury.

It will be the third consecutive game Bess has missed. He finishes the season with 61 catches for 778 yards and one score.

Cornerback Nolan Carroll (knee) and defensive tackle Randy Starks (family reasons) were listed Friday as questionable. Cornerback Sean Smith, who left last week’s game against Buffalo with a bruised left knee, was limited in practice for the second day in a row and is listed as probable.