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Urlacher May Miss Bears Preseason Opener

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Aug 6, 2012 5:40PM

2011_9_14_urlacher.jpg The Bears open their preseason schedule Thursday but one of their biggest stars may remain on the sidelines. Brian Urlacher, still recovering from sprained knee ligaments suffered in last season's final game, has remained off the practice field for the past four days of training camp. Whether or not he'll suit up when the Bears welcome the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning to Soldier Field isn't yet known, but it's looking less and less likely.

Urlacher missed the entire off-season training regimen as he recovered from the injury, but when training camp opened a couple weeks ago coach Lovie Smith declared the Pro Bowl linebacker ready to go. When asked how he intended to adjust Urlacher's practice schedule, Smith replied,

Not at all. He’s ready to go. We’re cautious with players when they’re not fit and full-speed ready to go. But once we get them out there, we’re never trying to take out any of our players in practice.

And yet Urlacher has missed more practices than he's participated in due to lingering soreness in that injured knee, and Smith seems to be backpedaling at bit when addressing media questions, "It’s not like he hurt it any more," Smith said. "‘You assume he’d have some soreness and he’d miss a few of these training-camp practices."

Even if missing some workout and the first exhibition are more precautionary than anything, it certainly is a cause for concern for Bears fans. This might turn out to be nothing, but it also might indicate that the Bears' defensive leader can't continue to play at the same level we've seen. As the Sun-Times' Mark Potash asks, "If he’s sore after three practices, how is he going to feel after a game against an opponent who knows he’s playing on a rehabbed knee?" We saw how the Bears' defense wilted without Urlacher when he missed almost the entire 2009 season. This team looks like they might be a legitimate threat in the NFC this year with their upgraded offense, but to have any thoughts about the Super Bowl they'll need their middle linebacker healthy and the defense firing on all cylinders, too.