Lovie Smith expects Sidney Rice to play

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith expects Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice to play Sunday in a pivotal NFC North matchup.

"I assume when you are even cleared to go, and you practice full on [Wednesday], you'll be playing," Smith said. "We are definitely planning on him playing this week."

Rice, who has been sidelined since undergoing hip surgery in August, returned to practice last week but was inactive against the Arizona Cardinals. He will officially be a game-time decision, according to Vikings coach Brad Childress.

Last season Rice finished fourth in the NFL with 1,312 yards receiving yards.

"He's just another good player into the mix with them," Smith said. "They have excellent receivers right now. Bernard Berrian started to really come around, he had a much better game [last] week. Of course, [Percy] Harvin is a heck of a football player.

"Sidney Rice, when he's healthy, last year you look at the year he had, we just have to deal with another great player. Another playmaker into the mix that should definitely help their passing game."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.