BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) -Chicago Bears first-round draft pick Chris Williams left practice Thursday because of lower back stiffness.
``When I say there is some stiffness, I don't know exactly how much, but he couldn't practice,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said of the offensive tackle. ``The guys know there's a difference between pain and injury. It seems like his was more of an injury.''
Williams signed his five-year, $13 million contract just in time to participate in Wednesday's first practice. Nine-year veteran John St. Clair is the Bears' other left tackle, and he manned the spot for much of Thursday's practice, with undrafted free agent Cody Balogh also seeing time.
The Bears line was already short-handed because Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz is on the physically unable to perform list with an Achilles' strain.
``Hopefully it's not anything serious and we'll get him out here before long,'' Smith said of Williams.
Also, there was no word on the status of talks between the team and holdout return man Devin Hester's agent, Eugene Parker.
Hester's holdout left Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake looking for what he called a ``Lou Gehrig'' in the receiver corps.
``You tell the guys nobody ever heard of Lou Gehrig until Wally Pipp got sick one day and he was held out,'' Drake said. ``Next thing you know Miller Huggins said hey, Gehrig, get in here.''
Players say they understand Hester's situation, even if he wants a new contract after only two years of his four-year deal.
``He has to do what he has to do for himself and his family,'' receiver Rashied Davis said. ``You can only play this game for so long and if you have the opportunity to get paid or get a new contract, or whatever, sometimes you have to take advantage of the opportunity.''
Notes: The Bears waived fullback J.D. Runnels and signed wide receiver Ryan Grice-Mullen, a former Houston Texan and University of Hawaii player. ... Cornerback Charles Tillman missed his second straight practice with an excused leave for personal reasons. ... Rookie running back Matt Forte took all the snaps with the first team and some with the second team. He also went through his first full-contact running drills.

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