- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With the Chicago Bears officially declaring Brian Urlacher out for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, his replacement Nick Roach expects the inevitable comparisons to the future the Hall of Famer to flow as soon as the team hits the field.
Roach considers the anticipated comparisons "natural" and views them as a positive.
"I wouldn't consider it tough (to be compared to Urlacher)," Roach said. "I'll probably do the same thing: wonder what Brian might have done in the situation or ask him how he feels about what he saw that maybe I didn't see. I think it's a good thing."
Normally the starting SAM linebacker, Roach steps in Sunday to make his fourth career start at middle linebacker. Roach last played the position in the regular season in 2009, a season in which he also started 12 games at his current SAM spot and saw action in all 16 games for the first time in his career.
Roach finished with a career-high 10 tackles for lost yardage in 2009 to go with 82 stops overall, and a pair of sacks. When he filled in at middle linebacker, Roach struggled somewhat to effectively communicate calls, teammates said. He's since improved in that area.
"His voice has developed," weakside linebacker Lance Briggs joked. "I don't know the right word, but (his voice has) matured. He sounds louder on the field."
Roach said he now tries "to make a conscious effort to get the communications clear so the guys can hear it," which came as an adjustment because "on the outside, you really don't have to begin any of the communications."
Having worked extensively during training camp alongside Briggs and new starter Geno Hayes -- who will start Sunday at SAM -- because of an injury to Urlacher in late July, Roach and the rest of the group have developed enough chemistry to make a seamless switch in a tweaked linebacker lineup.
It also helps that Urlacher will be on the sidelines as somewhat of a coach.
"He's really good about being there and saying, 'Hey, if you see this, alert for something like that.' He's always kind of keeping that eyes-behind-your-head type of thing," Roach said. "It's great obviously to hear from a guy like Brian, who's had all the experience and all the success doing it. To get that type of personal type coaching is great."
But will it translate on the field? The Bears seem to think so. Coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday that "Plan B for us is pretty good if you lose a guy like (Urlacher)."
"It's not like I'm out there by myself," Roach said. "I have a whole cast of guys that have been there before, and they've played with other guys before in the middle. So we should be good."