Brian Urlacher ready for lockout's end
By Michael C. Wright
Archive CHICAGO -- They disagree about whether there's a sliver of positivity hiding somewhere within the NFL lockout.
But there's no doubt Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and running back Matt Forte would be ready to go if the current labor strife -- as widely predicted -- ends later this week.
Wearing charcoal gray T-shirts representing their team, which also featured tight end Greg Olsen, the host of the Kicks for a Cure charity kickball event Saturday at Grant Park, the three Bears appeared to be in good playing shape as they kicked up dust on the diamond chasing opponents ranging from 7 year olds to grownups during one of few outlets this offseason in which they could let the competitive juices flow.
Urlacher said he's been able to spend more time with his children during the lockout, joking that he hadn't done anything all offseason. The truth, though, is he's ready to play.
"I feel good," Urlacher said after his team's second kickball game. "If [the lockout ends] I'm ready to go. I've just been doing my regular offseason workouts, the same stuff we always do, just not with my teammates. It's the same as always. I haven't done anything different except not do OTAs and stuff with my teammates."
Asked whether there's anything positive associated with the NFL lockout, Urlacher paused and shook his head, expressing concern about the possibility of increased injuries once teams are allowed back onto the field.
"I don't think it's good at all. I don't think anything good can come out of this," Urlacher said. "The guys are getting rest, but we'd rather be working. I know that much. That's what we do. Hopefully there's not a lot of injuries when we start back again, either."
Forte, meanwhile, pondered whether the lockout would ultimately affect the quality of the game.
"I think if we have enough time to get into training camp, and don't miss any camp [the quality of football won't be affected]," Forte said. "Training camp is really when you start getting those pads on. In OTAs, we only have helmets on. So when you get the pads on, you start to get that real part of football. You get the contact and stuff like that and you're able to work on your technique and stuff while doing that."
Forte explained that during a typical offseason, a player's injuries from the previous season aren't fully healed once teams begin conditioning programs and organized team activities. For Forte, the ability to completely heal is the lone benefit coming from the current work stoppage.
"Everybody's getting a lot more rest than before," he said. "Usually, OTAs start up kind of fast, and you're not really healed up from the season. So I think [the lockout could be a good thing]."
Still, the situation doesn't do much for the players' desire to compete. That's why they're keeping a close watch on the daily developments from the lockout.
Multiple reports cite sources saying a new deal by the end of the week is possible as the sides work overtime to preserve the Aug. 7 preseason opener between the Bears and the St. Louis Rams. The Bears, meanwhile, are watching, working and waiting.
"I'm not hearing much, so I have no idea what's going to happen," Forte said. "If [the lockout ends] next week, I'm ready to go, yeah. We've been training. We're confident. We're in good shape and ready to go."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.