The last time the Bears sat Devin Hester down for an entire week of practice, he responded on game day with an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, the Bears could use a Hester score or two considering their offensive woes. Green Bay is averaging 40.2 points per game at home this season and the Bears have scored 47 points in the four games they've been without starting quarterback Jay Cutler.
Hester is questionable on the injury report and coach Lovie Smith painted a bleak picture.
"It's not looking real good," he said.
But defensive end Julius Peppers was listed as doubtful for the Minnesota game Oct. 16 and started, and safety Major Wright was probable last week and didn't dress. So, anything could happen with Hester. The Bears are without their No. 2 return man Johnny Knox as he was placed on injured reserve. That leaves Earl Bennett as a primary punt return option. Other players could be involved.
"We still have options," Smith said. "We'll have someone back there returning kicks and we'll have someone returning punts that we feel pretty good about."
The guess here is that man might be Hester, who has been hobbled by an ankle issue for almost half of the season.
Running back Marion Barber (calf) was listed as doubtful and he will not play. Linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) and defensive end Henry Melton (shin) are questionable. Tight end Kellen Davis (back) is probable. The Packers ruled out offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton as well as wide receiver Greg Jennings and defensive end Ryan Pickett. Defensive end Mike Neal (shoulder) is questionable.
LINE SHUFFLE: If there is an upside to shuffling the offensive line as the Bears have been forced to do, it's that when decisions need to be made there will be more depth to consider. Edwin Williams will make his sixth start at left guard on Sunday night at Green Bay, filling in for Chris Williams since he was lost to a season-ending wrist injury in the Nov. 13 Detroit game. Edwin Williams, who made three starts at right guard last season, is coming off what might have been his best game last week vs. Seattle.
While first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi missed nearly the entire season, the Bears project to go into 2012 with Williams, Lance Louis and J'Marcus Webb all experienced young players.
"Ed played well enough for us to win so he had a passing grade," offensive line coach Mike Tice said. "Had some plays that showed little inexperience, little hesitant a couple times when he was pulling but he's out there, he's got a little bit of a calf strain, he's fighting through it. I think he is playing better every week.
"We've had eight guys that have played. That does help you in the long run, looking forward."
EXTRA POINTS: Even if the Seahawks defeat the 49ers Saturday, which would secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs for the Packers, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy sounds like a man driven to play is starters Sunday. "Frankly, I don't see anything changing my mind. I can't worry about what other people are doing. We have 13 wins. Our target has been 14 wins. That's the way we'll go into the weekend." ... The Bears typically have a walk-through Saturday mornings but because it is Christmas Eve, they got that work done already this week. The team will meet at Halas Hall Saturday afternoon before departing for Green Bay. McCarthy gave his team off Saturday because it is playing at home. ... In the holiday spirit, quarterback Jay Cutler presented his offensive linemen with watches. Caleb Hanie bought the linemen high-end luggage.