LAKE FOREST – Bears nickelback D.J. Moore never expected to go from playmaker to spectator.
It happened anyway.
Moore’s coaches benched him last month in favor of Kelvin Hayden, an eight-year veteran who started 47 games with the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons. Moore has not played in three of the past four games but could earn another opportunity to play Sunday at Minnesota.
That’s because cornerback Tim Jennings has a shoulder injury and has not been able to practice this week. The Bears have not ruled out Jennings for Sunday, but if he is unable to play, it’s likely Hayden will move to cornerback and Moore will return to nickelback.
Moore said he was eager to return to the field after his benching.
“The whole situation is kind of funny to me,” Moore said. “But I never took it as another guy was better than me. That’s never the case. I just want to go out there and do what I can do.”
Bears coach Lovie Smith said Moore needed to make plays if he received another chance. Moore had four interceptions in each of the previous two seasons, returning two for touchdowns.
“If your play isn’t exactly what we think it should be, then you open the door for someone else to get an opportunity,” Smith said. “Most of the time, you get another chance. So, what you have to do is make plays. Simple as that. It’s all based on performance on the football field.
“D.J. is a pro. When he did take a step back, he was doing everything he possibly could behind the scenes to help this team. He’s a good player. Hopefully, he’ll get another shot.”
Moore acknowledged that this season has been a bit strange.
“Yeah, kind of,” said Moore, who was the Bears’ fourth-round draft pick in 2009. “But during the whole process, I’ve been myself. I just look forward to playing.”
Sigh of relief: Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said he and his teammates were fortunate that they did not have to prepare for Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, who was placed on injured reserve this week because of an ankle injury.
In the 2011 regular-season finale against the Bears, Harvin caught 10 passes for 115 yards and rushed for a 5-yard touchdown.
“The things they [do] with Percy – putting him in the backfield, motioning him out – he can play anywhere on the field,” Briggs said. “He’s as good a running back as there is in the game once he gets the ball. But him not being there is a little bit of a relief because he can create some matchup problems.”
Bears bits: As expected, receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) was ruled out for Sunday’s game. … Running back Michael Bush (ribs) and Jennings (shoulder) missed practice for a second straight day. … Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli ruled out any possibility of rookie Shea McClellin playing linebacker this season. “We’ve got our guys,” Marinelli said.