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Bad news Bears: Peppers reportedly suffered sprained MCL

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in Monday's 24-13 loss to the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday, citing a league source.

"The severity of Peppers' MCL sprain is unclear but not believed to be serious," the Tribune tweeted, adding that the three-time All-Pro has not been ruled out for Sunday's meeting with the Minnesota Vikings.

Peppers left the Detroit game briefly in the first half, but returned to action and finished with three tackles. He missed two games at the end of the 2007 with a similar injury to his right knee, when he was with the Carolina Panthers. Peppers was placed on injured reserve to end that season, but still made the Pro Bowl

MCL sprains vary in their severity and some players miss little time, if any. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was lambasted by NFL players and the media after exiting the team's NFC Championship loss to the Green Bay Packers in January with an MCL sprain.

If Peppers misses any time, it's a significant loss for a troubled Bears defense that currently ranks 29th in the league and has surrendered 419.6 yards per game. Even with Peppers on the field, linebacker Brian Urlacher admitted Tuesday: "Defensively, we stink. We can't stop the run, we can't stop the pass."

That's bad news, considering the Bears aren't a team built to lean on its offense. At 2-3, and trailing the undefeated Packers and Lions in the NFC North, the notion of winning back-to-back division titles is becoming a distant one.

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