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Urlacher's '09 injury led to big 2010

The loss of Brian Urlacher to injury was a crushing blow to the 2009 season but may have led to a big 2010 campaign. AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Could it be possible Brian Urlacher's season-ending wrist injury suffered at Lambeau Field in September 2009 indirectly led to this season's Chicago Bears squad being one win from the Super Bowl?

It may sound like a far-fetched theory, but an argument can be made that being away from the grind of the NFL for an entire season allowed Urlacher, 32, to enter the 2010 campaign in excellent physical shape. The results speak for themselves: Urlacher led the team in tackles (146), tackles for a loss (11), passes broken up (13) and fumble recoveries (three), and earned his first Pro Bowl berth since 2006.

“Personally, I was fresh," Urlacher said Thursday. "I had a lot of time off to get my body right. I think I got better as the season went on, trying to work myself back into it through training camp and the first couple games. Then just getting situated back on the field again, playing football again. There are still things I want to do better, but for the most part I think I got better as the season went on. I didn’t get run down like I thought I would maybe.”

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said Urlacher's leadership is vital to the Bears' defense.

"As you know, this man, in our system, he’s unparalleled in terms of his leadership and his knowledge of our system," Marinelli said. "Those guys look to him for that leadership, not just strong, loud, good player, but his adjustments gameday, the checks, he’s got it all. He’s the full package. That, to me, is what really separates him from others.

“The biggest thing he does is he brings a calming effect to the entire defense because he they know if something comes up that is a surprise or whatever, he’s going to handle it. It’s a tremendous calming effect for the defense. His verbiage, his communication, is always right. He’s able to put the players in the good situation all the time. So it’s a comforting feeling for a coach, but also for the defensive team."