<
>

Melton hopes to return against Cardinals

Henry Melton's six sacks rank third in the NFL among defensive tackles. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A former college running back, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton fancies himself one of the more fleet-footed performers on the club's defensive line.

That's why Melton couldn't help but laugh Thursday when explaining the clavicle injury suffered Dec. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings that forced him to miss the club's Dec. 16 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Melton said he "could definitely play through" his latest setback, which means there's a good chance he takes the field with the Bears on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

"I was being sloppy and fell on my shoulder," Melton said when asked what caused his injury.

Pressed to explain "sloppy", Melton -- wearing a winter hat shaped like a Chicago Bears helmet -- started laughing.

"I just tripped. (Laughing) I'm way more athletic than that play, so I call it being sloppy because I was running sideways, and I kind of stumbled over a bunch of guys' feet and just fell straight on my shoulder," Melton said. "I was like, 'Why did I even fall like that?' It was kind of embarrassing, but yeah, it hurt. Yeah, that's what happened."

What Melton hopes takes place this week is a return to the field. Melton struggled to watch from the sidelines Sunday as Aaron Rodgers tossed three touchdown passes in leading the Packers to a 21-13 win over the Bears that clinched the NFC North championship.

Melton considered his absence against the Packers "precautionary" because "they don't want anything worse to happen to (the clavicle) that would keep me out of the playoffs or something like that."

With playoff chances seemingly slipping away, Melton says now "we're going to see how it feels and maybe give it a go."

Melton practiced on Wednesday and Thursday, and Bears coach Lovie Smith said it appears the defensive tackle could be available for the matchup at Arizona. Melton ranks No. 3 in the NFL for most sacks by a defensive tackle with 6. Cincinnati's Geno Atkins, and Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions rank first and second in the NFL in sacks by defensive tackle with 10.5 and 6.5, respectively.

Melton said he knows "nothing" about Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley; not his name, "I don't even know his number, (but) that's all I'm going to aim for."

"We're going to see (if I can play this week)," Melton said. "We're going to work through practice today, and then we're going to take the next step to see if I'm ready to go. It was rough (missing last week's game). I saw my guys battling out there. I wanted to be out there to make a big play for them, but when you get hurt, you've just got to get your treatment and be kind of a little cheerleader on the sideline for them."

This week, Melton hopes to shed the pom poms. If he can do so, it would likely help the Bears up front tremendously.