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Rookie DE Jonathan Bullard returns, expects to play vs. Chiefs

Bears rookie defensive end Jonathan Bullard shared a sack with fellow rookie Leonard Floyd in the Bears' 23-22 preseason loss to the Patriots last week. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Rookie defensive end Jonathan Bullard returned to practice after missing four days and three practices to deal with a personal issue at home and said he expects to play in the Bears’ third preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field.

One day after avoiding an injury when a tackling sled fell on his right foot at last Saturday’s practice at Warren High School, Bullard left the team to deal with “family issues I wanted to go home and be supportive of,” the Bears’ third-round draft pick said after practice Thursday. “I made peace while I was at home. I kept up [with team responsibilities] on my iPad at home. So I’m up to speed on everything. And I met with coach [Jay] Rodgers and he got me caught up, so I’m fine.”

It’s been an eventful and challenging rookie season already for Bullard. He combined with Leonard Floyd for a sack against the Patriots in the Bears’ second preseason game last week — another sign of the progress he’s made throughout training camp. That progress seemed to be accelerating as he got more game snaps and learns the nuances of the position to complement his obviously explosive first step.

“I knew my game was kind of starting off slow,” Bullard said “Understanding the defense and what guys are doing around you is so valuable. It allows you to know when to take chances and when you can do certain things. Now that I’ve got a few games under my belt, a few more practices and getting way more reps than I was, I’m starting to understand what the guys are doing around me, so I can play much faster and start making the plays I’m used to making.”

Coach John Fox likes what he see.

“He’s a tough-minded player. He’s a tough player physically,” Fox said. “He’s explosive, which helps obviously in the pass rush. And I just liked his mind-set and how he goes about his business so far.”

Langford is OK

Running back Jeremy Langford had his own injury scare when he twisted his foot against the Patriots last week. He missed three practices and returned Wednesday and expects to play against the Chiefs.

Injury/illness report

Cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Kevin Peterson did not participate because of illness Thursday. But five players who caught the same bug returned: right tackle Bobby Massie, cornerbacks Deiondre Hall and De’Vante Bausby, wide receiver Derek Keaton and fullback Darrell Young.

Among those still out with injuries: right guard Kyle Long (shoulder), outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), nickel back Bryce Callahan (hamstring), cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee), safety Deon Bush (head/neck) and linebacker Lamin Barrow (undisclosed). Linebacker Danny Trevathan (hamstring) was limited.

A football celebration

The Bears are taking advantage of the rare noon start of Saturday’s game to provide fans with a family-fest type of activity area prior to the game, with all sorts of things of interest and fun for girls and boys.

Among the kids-oriented activities at the “Kids Zone” outside the southeast side of the stadium from 9:30-11:30 a.m. will be inflatables, a mini-obstacle course, a video-game truck, a live band, alumni autographs. Some members of the U.S. Olympic team are expected to sign autographs at the Kids Zone as well. Tickets are still available via Ticketmaster.com.