By Chris Emma–

CHICAGO (CBS) — Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is active and will play his third game of the season when Chicago hosts Carolina at Soldier Field on Sunday.

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After missing three weeks with a pectoral injury, Kwiatkoski is returning sooner than initially expected. The Bears suspected a complete pectoral tear when he suffered the injury in Week 2, but it wasn’t that severe. Kwiatkoski will start alongside Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker.

The Bears will be without running back Benny Cunningham and cornerback Sherrick McManis, two key special teams players dealing with hamstring injuries. Linebacker John Timu (ankle/knee), center Hroniss Grasu (hand) and receiver Markus Wheaton (groin) are also inactive due to injury, joining quarterback Mark Sanchez and defensive lineman John Jenkins.

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The Panthers’ inactives include linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion) and safety Kurt Coleman (knee). Receiver Kelvin Benjamin is active after dealing with a knee injury during the week.

Kickoff between the Bears (2-4) and Panthers (4-2) is at noon from Soldier Field, with Chicago looking for its second victory in a row.

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Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.