Urlacher on injured knee: It feels good

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
5:42
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[+] EnlargeBrian Urlacher
Jerry Lai/US PresswireBrian Urlacher said it's not up to the players to protect other players.
DES PLAINES -- Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said Tuesday he is neither worried about his knee, unsigned running back Matt Forte nor the NFL's bounty scandal.

Speaking before a luncheon at Maryville Academy, where he was to receive the team's annual Ed Block Courage Award, voted on by his teammates, Urlacher said it is not up to the league's players to make the game safer.

"That's not our job to protect other players," Urlacher said. "It's the NFL's job and the refs' job to protect the players. ... If they think it's illegal, they'll throw a flag or they'll fine you. It's not our job to regulate that.

"I'm not worried about it. It's always touchy and I'm sure it will be even worse after all this stuff went down. You just have to go out there to do the best you can with the rules in place."

As the team looks to its first voluntary offseason workouts on Monday, Urlacher, who damaged ligaments in his knee during last season's final game at Minnesota but did not require surgery, said it "feels good."

"I've had so much time in the offseason to get it right," he said. "I still have four months [until training camp]. I'm definitely not in a big hurry. I've done everything to this point I've been asked to do. I'm sure when the time's right, I'll be ready to play. I have six months before the season starts to get ready. I'll be good to go when the time is right."

In the meantime, Urlacher is not likely to see Forte at Halas Hall as the disgruntled running back cannot participate in team activities until he signs the team's one-year franchise tender that would pay him $7.742 million, a raise of more than $7.1 million over last season.

"[Free agent acquisition] Michael Bush will get a lot of reps then if Matt's not there, and he'll get to know the offense," Urlacher said. "Matt takes care of himself. He knows the offense, he's a smart guy, he's always in shape. He's the least of my concerns. He'll be at training camp when he needs to be. Either way, he'll be there."

Urlacher also commented on the team's somewhat controversial trade for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, saying "Brandon is a good guy. I know he's had some issues. Everyone says that. I've been around him a couple times. Jay (Cutler is) going to handle that situation, so I'm not worried about it.

"Jay is a straightforward guy. He's been around Brandon. I don't think it will be an issue. He's coming to a good situation, he's got a great quarterback, good offensive line, good running game, decent defense, great coaching staff, so I think it's a good situation for him to be in. He's going to get a lot of balls thrown at him, so that should keep him happy."

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.

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