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Bears expect Urlacher to play

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher returned to practice Thursday after the death of his mother and is expected to play at New Orleans on Sunday.

Urlacher missed Wednesday's practice to go to Texas after Lavoyda Lenard died Monday night.

"Sometimes when you're going through tough times like he is right now, you want to get back with your support group, which is here with his teammates," coach Lovie Smith said. "It was good to get him back, see his face and show some support that way.

"Football is pretty important to him. So you know he's excited about playing the game this Sunday."

Urlacher, who was unavailable for comment, is set to attend the funeral Saturday.

Vikings linebacker hurt

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings starting middle linebacker E.J. Henderson will have an X-ray on his sore knee that caused him to miss practice.

His status for Sunday's game against the Bucs hasn't been determined.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson, who practiced without problems Wednesday, woke up with swelling. The team is unsure sure how he got hurt.

In his place, younger brother Erin Henderson and recently acquired Xavier Adibi took reps.

Raiders want field goal record: Oakland has appealed to Elias, the league's official statistician, to rule Monday's field goal by Sebastian Janikowski against the Broncos a 64-yarder instead of 63, which matched the league record of Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam. Replays indicate holder Shane Lechler placed the ball between the Raiders' 47- and 46-yard lines. The rules call for the distance to be rounded down.

Pryor appeal: The agent for Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor met with commissioner Roger Goodell about overturning his five-game ban. Agent Drew Rosenhaus said he expects a ruling shortly. Pryor, who left Ohio State amid allegations of exchanging memorabilia for tattoos, was suspended for manipulating his eligibility for the supplemental draft.

Bengals: Quarterback Andy Dalton will start against the Broncos on Sunday. The rookie bruised his right wrist and forearm in the opener and was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski. He didn't throw at practice Wednesday but did Thursday.

Bills: Receiver Stevie Johnson missed practice with a sore groin that has been bothering him for about a month. He's expected to play Sunday against the Raiders.

Falcons: Fullback Ovie Mughelli, who missed most of the opener with a knee injury, and defensive tackle Corey Peters, who missed all the opener with a knee injury, practiced and are expected to play Sunday against the Eagles.

Jets: Linebacker David Harris missed his second straight practice with a toe injury. Receiver Santonio Holmes was limited with a sore knee and quadriceps. Both are expected to play Sunday against the Jaguars.

Rams: Running back Steven Jackson missed his second straight practice with a strained quad but said he has not ruled himself out for Monday against the Giants. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said Jackson will be evaluated closer to Monday.

Saints: Saying "that's why I hired my agent," quarterback Drew Brees does not expect his effort to sign a contract extension to be a distraction. He is in the final year of a six-year, $60 million contract. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that agent Tom Condon met with the team Tuesday. ESPN.com reported the sides are far apart.

Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu was fined $15,000 for a horse-collar tackle on Ravens running back Ray Rice on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Titans: Safety Chris Hope missed his second straight practice, and coach Mike Munchak said his status for Sunday vs. the Ravens will depend on how quickly his shoulder strengthens after popping out in the opener.

Dolphins avoid blackout: Miami and team sponsors will buy unsold tickets so Sunday's home game against the Texans will air locally. As of Thursday morning, about 10,000 remained. The tickets, bought at a 66 percent discount, will be given to season-ticket holders.

Diversity: The league showed an increase of 30 percent in diverse employees in executive-level jobs, according to a study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. The report gave the league its second straight A for racial hiring and second straight C for gender hiring for an overall B. Diverse employees at or above the vice president level increased by 30 percent (from 20 in 2010 to 26 in 2011). Female employees increased by 36 percent (11 in 2010 to 15 in 2011).

Bears expect Urlacher to play 09/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 11:28pm]

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