Bears notebook: Tinoisamoa back in lineup

Matt Trowbridge

Pisa Tinoisamoa, who missed the last 14 games with knee injuries, returned to the starting lineup at Wednesday’s practice. His start was the first since the Bears divided first-team reps at strong-side linebacker between Tinoisamoa and Nick Roach.

“Both guys we feel like are starters in this league,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said.

Tinoisamoa, who led the Rams in tackles four times before signing with Chicago, said he and Roach are just trying to keep up with Pro Bowl linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

“We’re always looked at as the other guy,” Tinoisamoa said.

“Everybody knows Lance. Everybody knows ’Lach. Nobody knows about us. That’s how Nick and I feel. Although we are competing against each other, we are trying to show that we belong with these linebackers and that we can be the best in the league.”

They are also trying to show that they can be more than part-time players; the Bears pull the strong-side linebacker when they add an extra defensive back on passing downs.

“You know Lance and ’Lach are going to be out there; they have those positions locked,” Tinoisamoa said. “For Nick and I, it’s mostly the base and the big formations where we’re trying to battle to get on the field. Hopefully, if we show that we can hang with Lance and ’Lach, maybe they’ll keep us out when the nickel comes.”

Injury update

Defensive tackle Marcus Harrison returned to practice after missing two days because of heat-related problems, but cornerback Charles Tillman sat out with what Smith called a “tweaked ankle.”

Tim Jennings took his place in the starting unit.

Also, fourth-string quarterback Mike Teel pulled his hamstring. “He will be out awhile,” Smith said.

Bears sign Evans, cut McGee

The Bears signed defensive lineman Maurice Evans and released punter Richmond McGee. Evans is an undrafted free agent out of Penn State signed by the Giants last year. The Giants cut him before the season.

The 6-foot-2, 264-pound Evans spent most of the 2009 season with Tampa Bay, either on the Bucs practice squad or active roster, but never appeared in a game. Evans had 17 sacks at Penn State, including 12.5 as a sophomore in 2007.

Practice highlights

Zackary Bowman made his fourth interception of camp after receiver Earl Bennett slipped. … Eric Peterman made a juggling catch. … Tim Jennings made a diving over-the-head end zone interception of Caleb Hanie. … Devin Hester made a fingertip sideline TD catch in a red zone drill, then slapped hands with fans in the crowd. … Kellen Davis made a leaping TD catch in another fine red zone play.

“We really like some of the things the offense did tonight, especially down in the red zone,” Lovie Smith said. “When we get in the red zone, we have to get touchdowns. Tonight we got a few.”

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or