Ailing RB Barber could return to Bears practice Wednesday

The Chicago Bears weren't missing much in their 30-12 thumping of the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and now they might be on the verge of adding battering ram Marion Barber to complement speedster Matt Forte at running back.

Barber, who sat out the Bears' season opener, is expected to return to practice Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

Barber signed a two-year, $5 million deal with Chicago in July and was expected to improve the Bears' production in the red zone. But the seventh-year pro injured his left calf muscle during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans and has sat out the past 17 days.

Bears coach Lovie Smith told the Tribune "soon" when asked about Barber's timetable for a return. Smith added it was too early in the week to say anything definite in regard to Barber's status for Sunday when the Bears take on the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.

Barber rushed for 49 yards on 13 carries and added five receptions for 31 yards in the one preseason game in which he saw extended playing time for the Bears, a loss to the New York Giants.

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