Sources: Bears may turn to backups

Updated: December 31, 2010, 8:38 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears maintain they plan to play their starters for the duration Sunday, when they face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, but multiple team sources revealed the staff has told some of the key backups to be ready.

With his team still in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, Bears coach Lovie Smith strongly stated the team's intentions Wednesday, saying games involving the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons -- also vying for the top seed -- won't change the Bears' approach against the Packers.

Still, Smith left a small out in case the team changed its mind about how it would handle the snaps of key players in the season finale.

"[It's] Game 16, and we're trying to win the game. None of that has anything to do with what we're doing. We're playing a game," Smith said Wednesday. "This is the last team on our schedule. We had planned on playing them the entire time. So nothing has changed. We'll get into the game, and see what's going on during the course of the game. We want to go into the playoffs on a high as much as anything. It's not gonna change. So keep asking that question and I'll keep answering it that way. There has to be something else to talk about."

Throughout the week of preparation leading into Sunday's contest, the Bears ramped up the repetitions of some of the key backups, such as tight end Kellen Davis and third-team running back Kahlil Bell, while telling others to be ready to contribute when called upon.

Other than receiver Earl Bennett (ankle), who is listed as questionable, and Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee), the team -- other the standard nicks and bruises -- is pretty much 100 percent healthy headed into Sunday's regular-season finale.

But the Bears might opt to rest some of the nicked up contributors such as Bennett, Tinoisamoa and possibly running back Matt Forte.

"I want to play, man. I'm a competitor," Bennett said. "I don't want to sit around and watch. That's for the birds."

Backup receiver Rashied Davis said he'd welcome the extra work should the team decide to rest some players for the postseason

"More reps on offense for me? You sure that's gonna be me?" Davis asked, laughing. "It would mean a lot for me to be able to go out and play a little bit more on offense. It would be awesome. So hopefully, that happens."

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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