LB Brian Urlacher remained sidelined Wednesday with a hamstring injury. (US Presswire)

If the Chicago Bears held out hope LB Brian Urlacher would return this week from a hamstring pull, Wednesday's first practice in preparation for the Arizona Cardinals was a disappointment. 

Neither Urlacher nor RT Jonathan Scott could practice becuase of hamstring injuries. Urlacher has missed two games. 

Coach Lovie Smith was unusually forthcoming about Urlacher's injury and the impact after practice.

"He's getting better, but with hamstrings it's just hard to say exactly when you will get back," Smith said. "I just know that he's here and with some of the things he's doing it's better than what it was before. But it's pretty hard to come back from a hamstring injury in a week or so.

"That's why we need to play good football this week against Arizona and just buy time for him to get back."

Nick Roach has started two games for Urlacher. The Bears gave up 21 points each to Minnesota and Green Bay, but the offense allowed one of those touchdowns and two other scores were set up by QB Jay Cutler interceptions that had the Bears' defense backed up in their red zone. The Bears are 7-17 when Urlacher hasn't started during Smith's tenure.

Not all injury news was bad, though. In fact, it was a rare healthier day at Halas Hall. 

WR Earl Bennett practiced for the first time since suffering a concussion against Seattle on Dec. 2, CB Tim Jennings practiced for the first time since suffering a dislocated shoulder the same day and DT Henry Melton (chest) and Shea McClellin (knee) also practiced. All of those players practiced on a limited basis.

New short option: RB Kahlil Bell could become the new short-yardgage back after the team put Michael Bush on injured reserve with a rib injury. They brought Bell back on Tuesday. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said he'll meet with RB coach Tim Spencer to finalize the decision on roles for backs Thursday. 

Bell was waived Aug. 23 when he refused to take a reduced contract, then brought back Sept. 15 and cut again Oct. 15. The Jets signed him Nov. 13 but cut him Dec. 11.

The other Bears' short-yardage option is letting Matt Forte play, but he was kept out of the end zone three times inside the 5-yard line late in the third quarter during Sunday's 21-13 loss to Green Bay.

Lining up: The offensive line was a guessing game last week as three players finished the game playing positions they didn't start. The hamstring injury suffered by Scott was the main reason, as well as ineffective play by G Gabe Carimi

"We have some guys in place that we think we're going to go with," Tice said. "They're from the group of guys that played in the game the other day."

The most likely option if Scott is injured is the one they finished the game with: Carimi at right tackle, J'Marcus Webb at left tackle, Chris Spencer and James Brown at guards, and Roberto Garza at center.

Lack backer: Smith came to the aid of Urlacher for negative comments he made about fans and media when asked about his head coach's future. Urlacher had said he didn't care about fans and media when told there is an undercurrent of opinion against Smith returning.

"I think we all know Brian Urlacher cares about the fans, all right?" Smith said Wednesday. "And we're hopeful we'll have a lot of our fans in Arizona with us cheering us on. Brian and the rest of the guys all feel that way."

Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter: @CBSBears.