Bears' Peppers doubtful vs. Vikings after not practicing all week

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers is doubtful for Sunday's home game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Peppers, the Bears' top pass rusher, has a sprained left knee and did not practice at all this week after getting hurt in Monday night's loss at Detroit.

"I don't know if they'll completely change the game plan, but I'd say you'll have an entirely different attitude not having Julius Peppers on the football field," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of the Vikings. "Great player, you have to deal with him. Especially on passing downs, you have to think about putting two guys on him. We need other guys to step up."

Nick Reed will likely see time as Peppers' replacement. The Bears signed Reed, a seventh-round 2009 Seattle draft pick, after he had been released with an injury settlement last year. Corey Wootton had been the Bears' third defensive end, but suffered a broken hand in preparation for the Detroit game.

The Bears' other defensive changes come at safety, where veterans Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweatherhave been benched. Rookie third-round pick Chris Conte will make his first start and second-year player Major Wright will also get a start.

"I think as long as we make them grind it out and make them beat us then that's the best thing we can do," Conte said. "So, as long as we keep the ball in front of us and really guard against the big play, I think we'll be all right."

Tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) and defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (knee) are out, while wide receiver Earl Bennett is questionable after missing the previous three-plus games with a bruised chest.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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