Bears' Urlacher will be ready 'for sure'
Linebacker shrugs off lack of participation in offseason
By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:50 p.m. CDT, June 26, 2012
Brian Urlacher shrugged off his lack of participation this offseason while recovering from a knee injury, and the Bears linebacker says he is confident he'll be ready for the start of training camp.
Asked Tuesday if he would participate in the first day of camp July 26 in Bourbonnais, Urlacher answered, "for sure.''
He sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and partially sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in the same knee during the Bears' season-ending 17-13 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 1.
Urlacher was sidelined for voluntary offseason workouts and held out of the team's mandatory minicamp, June 12-14. His offseason rehab consisted of extensive work in the weight room and sprints at Halas Hall.
"I could have participated in minicamp, but there was no reason to,'' Urlacher said. "It was three days of stuff that I'm going to be doing at training camp, so there was no real reason to push it.''
Urlacher was asked when he felt his knee started to return to form.
"I don't think it will ever be normal again,'' he said with a hint of sarcasm. "But it probably started feeling better near the end of May.''
The true measure of his progress might not come until July 28, when the Bears hold their first padded practice.
"It will be different,'' Urlacher said. "It will be kind of like when I did my neck a few years ago. I had my neck surgery and after that first day of contact, I was fine.
"I don't think I'll have any issues with it."
The Bears still could be cautious with the 34-year-old Urlacher during camp.
"Maybe three days on, one day off,'' he said. "Whatever the trainers and coach (Lovie) Smith want to do is what I'll do.''
At the end of minicamp, Smith expressed confidence in Urlacher returning to training camp at full strength and running back Matt Forte returning under contract. The latter might not come to fruition as Forte remains involved in a contract dispute. Forte could either sign a long-term deal by July 16 or sign the one-year franchise tender of $7.74 million.
Forte said there is a possibility he could hold out of training camp but in the same breath talked about not missing any regular-season games.
"As long as he's there on Sept. 9, that's all that counts,'' Urlacher said, referring to the season opener versus the Colts. "We're not worried about his commitment. We're not worried about Matt taking care of his body.
"Yes, we want him to get his money and get his contract. ... We know he's going to be there when he needs to be.''