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Bears shuffle defensive starters because of injuries, performance

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Hunter Hillenmeyer, who's replacing injured Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker, won't be the only new starter for the Chicago Bearswhen they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said Friday that Zack Bowman will make his first career start in place of Nate Vasher at right cornerback. Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who has a knee sprain, will be replaced by Nick Roach.

Smith also confirmed that tight end Desmond Clark will not play Sunday because of a rib injury. He'll be replaced by Kelvin Davis.

Free safety Danieal Manning told reporters he has been told he will start after coming back from a hamstring injury. Last week, Kevin Payne started at free safety for the Bears.

Smith has been impressed with Bowman, who played about 12 snaps at cornerback in the season-opening loss at Green Bay after dealing with a pulled hamstring in training camp.

"I thought he played well in the limited time he had the other day (against the Packers)," Smith said. "We have been bringing him back from an injury. He's done a lot of good things when he's had an opportunity to play."

Vasher, a regular Bears starter since 2004, has 18 interceptions in his six-year NFL career and received a five-year, $28 million contract extension from the team in 2007.

"I just have to continue to keep working and do the things I've been doing and try to help Zack out as much as I can and be a total team player," Vasher said.

Manning had a pulled hamstring through much of training camp and preseason, but he played nickel back against Green Bay. Although he's healthy enough to resume his old starting job, Manning expects to be tested by the Steelers.

"I'm quite sure they're going to throw deep a lot, especially me coming back from a hammy injury they're going to try to go deep," Manning said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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