Smith optimistic that Urlacher will be on field next week
Linebacker targeting season opener for return from knee surgery
Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher missed most of training camp because of a left knee injury. (Brian Cassella/Tribune photo) (August 28, 2012)
By Vaughn McClure and Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporters 9:05 p.m. CDT, August 28, 2012
Bears coach Lovie Smith continued to express optimism regarding the status of eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Urlacher, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 14, remained sidelined Tuesday. He planned from the outset to be ready for the Sept. 9 season opener against the Colts.
"Brian is making a lot of progress," Smith said. "Just like we've said all along, I expect to see No. 54 out on the practice field next week and playing against the Colts."
The Bears will hold a walk-through Wednesday before traveling to Cleveland for the exhibition finale Thursday. They return to practice Monday.
Nick Roach continues to work with the first team at middle linebacker. Urlacher previously said returning for the opener was "really all that matters to me" in terms of his recovery.
Last week, Urlacher declined to discuss a Tribune report that he went to Germany in pursuit of alternative therapy on his knee. He originally sprained his medial collateral ligament and partially sprained his posterior cruciate ligament in a season-ending victory Jan. 1 at Minnesota.
For kicks: Punter Adam Podlesh has privately expressed confidence he will be ready for the opener, a source said, but the team is going to every length possible to ensure it has a quality backup. The Bears placed an unsuccessful waiver claim for the Browns' Spencer Lanning, who was awarded to the Jets because they were higher in the claiming order.
The action didn't stop there. The Bears had six punters in for a tryout, according to multiple league sources. The list included veterans Matt Turk and Daniel Sepulveda, as well as Travis Baltz, Jy Bond, Rob Long and Sam Paulescu.
Ryan Quigley performed well in the last exhibition and will handle duties against the Browns. But he's no lock for the job if the Bears need a replacement for Podlesh for a game or two. Podlesh is working his way back from a left hip flexor injury.
"We're going to be smart about how we get myself back on the field," Podlesh said.
Extra points: Tight end Kellen Davis missed practice because of an illness. It wouldn't be a surprise if he's held out Thursday, considering starters are limited in the final exhibition. … Other players held out Tuesday were safety Chris Conte (shoulder), nose tackle Stephen Paea (ankle), linebacker Dom DeCicco (groin), linebacker Geno Hayes (undisclosed) and receiver Rashied Davis (undisclosed). … The Bears are the 14th NFL team to have Spanish radio coverage. The team announced a partrnership with WLEY-FM 107.9 to begin broadcasting games this season. Jose Luis Marquez and Liz Liz will call the games.