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Bears set to battle Panthers in Carolina


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Bears will look to rebound from last weekend's loss to the Packers and stay perfect on the road Sunday when they battle the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

The Bears (2-2) have won their first two road games this season for the first time since 2006, when they reached the Super Bowl. The Panthers (2-2) opened 2-0 by beating the Buccaneers and Lions before losing to the Steelers and Ravens the past two weeks.

With left tackle Jermon Bushrod unable to play due to knee and ankle injuries, the Bears will start their third different line combination in five games.

Coach Marc Trestman said Friday that if left guard Matt Slauson can return from his ankle injury, Michael Ola will start at left tackle in place of Bushrod. Ola has lined up at left guard since Slauson was injured in the first half of the season opener against the Bills.

Slauson practiced without limitations Friday and is questionable on the injury report, meaning there's a 50 percent chance he'll play.

After rushing for just 136 yards in the first three games of the season, running back Kyle Long broke out with 122 yards on 23 carries in last Sunday's loss to the Packers.

Forte will look to build on that effort against the Panthers, who rank 27th in the NFL defending the run. The top two rushing games of Forte's seven-year career have come versus Carolina, with 205 yards on 25 carries on Oct. 2, 2011 and 166 yards on 22 attempts on Oct. 10, 2010.

Receiver Brandon Marshall practiced all week without restrictions for the first time since he injured his ankle in the season opener against the Bills. He told reporters Friday that he feels more explosive and "can pretty much do everything."

Quarterback Jay Cutler is tied for second in the NFL with 10 touchdown passes, third with 102 completions, ninth with 1,006 yards and 13th with a 94.7 passer rating. In three career games against the Panthers, he has passed for 460 yards with two TDs, three interceptions and a 71.5 rating.

Defensively, the Bears will look to rebound after allowing the Packers to score five touchdowns and one field goal on their first six possessions last Sunday.

The defense will benefit Sunday from the return of end Jared Allen, who missed last weekend's game while suffering from pneumonia. But the unit will play without tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion) and linebacker Shea McClellin (hand).

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 728 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 98.2 rating. Carolina is the only NFL team that has not yet thrown an interception this season.

Newton's favorite targets are rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin (21 receptions for 329 yards and 3 TDs) and former Bears tight end Greg Olsen (21-254-2).

The Panthers are expected to play without their top two running backs, DeAngelo Williams (ankle) and Jonathan Stewart (knee).

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