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Garza's return bolsters Bears' offensive line

LAKE FOREST – Bears offensive lineman Roberto Garza impressed his coaches during practice Wednesday and is on track to return to the starting lineup Sunday against Buffalo.

Garza, 31, missed the past two games after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

“He had good one-on-one [drills] against the defensive line today,” Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. “He looks fresh, upbeat, and he’s going to be a big help for [right tackle J’Marcus Webb] mentally. It’s going to be a good move for us."

Tice said Garza practiced at right guard Wednesday after starting at left guard for the season’s first five games. Chris Williams moved to left guard after Garza’s knee injury and is expected to remain at that position.

Garza said he would be happy to help Webb with blocking assignments and adjustments on the right side.

“We’ll be talking every play,” said Garza, a 10-year veteran. “That’s what offensive linemen do anyway. It’s not something you have to do outside of the box of what you normally do.”

Lights out: Randy Moss wasn’t the only high-profile player to be claimed off of waivers Wednesday.

The Bills claimed ex-San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, who tallied 39 sacks in his first three NFL seasons but has battled a variety of injuries since then. It’s uncertain whether Merriman will be available to play this weekend against the Bears.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz used to have to game plan specifically for Merriman.

“There’s no question about it, particularly before that [knee] injury,” Martz said. “It looked like he was offsides half the time. He had such great anticipation and quickness off the ball. It was intimidating.”

Comedy hour: Bears coach Lovie Smith flashed some dry wit while discussing Bills safety Jairus Byrd.

Jairus Byrd is the son of Bears’ defensive backs coach Gill Byrd. Sunday’s game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre will mark the first NFL showdown between the father and son.

“We keep hearing about this Byrd guy,” Smith joked. “Somebody like that. I have a hard time getting his name right. One of our coaches continues to talk about him, so we have to be conscious of him back there.”

Injury update: Bears cornerback Zackary Bowman (foot) was the team’s only player to miss practice Wednesday. … Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) and guard Edwin Wililams (back) were limited in drills.

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