The Chicago Bears have a potential problem with linebacker Brian Urlacher. The face of their defense, the franchise stalwart, the best player on the field when healthy — he’s been sidelined for most of camp with a left knee injury.
A report in the Chicago Tribune stated that he actually went to Germany for a treatment not approved in the United States, one the Bears don’t want to talk about. It has helped other superstars in the past. But the hope is that it will all heal and Urlacher will be ready for opening day. He has said that’s all he cares about.
I’m told that the Bears are pessimistic that Urlacher will be ready on opening day.
It’s possible, but a lot of things are possible. Urlacher wants to be out there, but players aren’t often the best gauge for their own health. This is the same guy who has been clear he’d basically do whatever to be on the field. Urlacher wants to play in Week 1, and the team has done nothing to dissuade him. They are allowing him to plan as if he’ll be ready.
But internally, they are preparing as if he won’t. If he does have to miss Week 1, he won’t be needed against the Indianapolis Colts. How he plays in pass defense could go a long way in determining whether they’ll beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.
One issue is that Urlacher isn’t practicing. He’s not going to be himself without practicing. And while he’ll suck it up and go out there, how much are you getting? How effective will he be? And does it make sense to play him when he’s not ready… and when his body hasn’t adjusted to being not full speed?
Do you simply force him to sit? They may.
Urlacher will act is if he’s full-speed. But if he’s not healthy, how well can he play? He’ll still react like he’s healthy, take the same angles, try to make the same plays. But he’ll be slower and less decisive.
So, this is the Bears issue. And it’s one, internally, they doubt will be solved by the opener.