|Kahlil Bell's set to start Sunday. (Getty Images)|
Bears quarterback Josh McCown, making his first NFL start since 2007, won't be the only new face for Chicago against Green Bay on Christmas: running back Kahlil Bell is poised to get the starting nod as well, with Marion Barber expected to miss Sunday's matchup.
Barber, who averages just 3.7 yards per carry on the year, hasn't had the best few weeks: he piled up just 33 yards against the Seahawks in a Week 15 loss and though he went over the 100-yard mark against the Broncos, he famously ran out of bounds and fumbled in an overtime loss that caused Tebowmania to top out at a dull roar last week.
So maybe it's best that, according to the Chicago Tribune, Barber is "expected" to miss Saturday's game against the rival Packers. Going with a third-string running back doesn't appear to bother coach Lovie Smith either.
"There are bigger concerns I have, and Kahlil is not one of them," Smith said Thursday. "I vividly remember his first carry he had at Soldier Field. I see him every day in practice going against our No. 1 defense."
Bell's first carry was in 2009, when he ripped off a 72-yard run against the Eagles, a Bears record for the longest carry by a rookie.
"He can make you miss in the open field," Smith said. "He can run with power inside. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. I'm excited about the opportunity he has."
Bell's probably excited too -- Saturday will mark just his second career start, and since the Bears-Packers game is the only contest on Christmas, he's got a shot to make his mark in a big way. Over the past three weeks, Bell's seen 28 total carries and averaged five yards a pop on those carries.
Green Bay is above average in rush defense, but if Bell has a big day he'll give Chicago the best Christmas present of all: a chance to stay in the playoff hunt.
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