By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) For the fourth time in 11 games, the Bears will have a new kick returner for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The official injury report (full list below) for Sunday was made available, and Chris Williams’ hamstring injury will keep him out of action, which means newly signed Marc Mariani will handle both kick and punt return duties.
“He’s worked hard this week, and he’ll be returning for us, both punts and kickoffs,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s had a reliable week, picked up things he needed to pick up to get us going in the return, and we’re all feeling good about that.”
Mariani made the Pro Bowl as a returner in 2011 but was cut by the Titans this past August. Despite being cut, he has kept in shape and hoped another opportunity would surface.
“Just working my (butt) off,” Mariani said. “I was hoping the call would come. I was preparing for it every week. So I knew that it would happen fast, and it’s happened real fast. But I knew that I had to be ready when my number was called, so I’ve been waiting and trying to stay as best prepared as I can, so I’m excited for Sunday.”
Mariani has a five receptions in the NFL, but his passion lies in the return game.
“It’s what I love to do,” Mariani said. “I feel like standing under punts is the greatest feeling in the world. I enjoy that. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. But just to have those game-day butterflies again is a beautiful feeling. I’ve had way too many Sundays on the couch this year, so I’m ready to go.”
Here’s the full injury report for Sunday’s noon kickoff against Tampa Bay. The game will be shown on Fox.
Didn’t participate/out for Sunday:
— DE Trevor Scott (knee)
— LB Darryl Sharpton (hamstring)
— WR Chris Williams (hamstring)
Limited participation/questionable for Sunday:
— OG Eben Britton (illness)
— CB Demontre Hurst (knee)
— RT Jordan Mills (knee)
Limited participation/probable for Sunday:
— WR Brandon Marshall (ankle)
Full participation/probable for Sunday:
— WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring)
— DT Ego Ferguson (illness)
— WR Josh Morgan (shoulder)
Preparing for McCoy
All week, the focus around Halas Hall has revolved around neutralizing Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who’s the centerpiece of Tampa Bay’s defense and is the focal point of Chicago’s protection scheme, guard Brian de la Puente said.
“He’s an explosive, game-changing player,” de la Puente said. “He’s a stud, and we’re going to have our hands full. I like our plan. We’re just going to have to match his intensity. It’s going to be a dog fight.”
McCoy plays with quick feet and active hands but his first-step quickness and relentlessness really has de la Puente’s attention.
“He’s got great get-off, he’s got a great motor, he doesn’t quit on plays,” de la Puente said. “He’s disruptive.”
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.