Smith downplays Brian Urlacher injury


Relax. I think.

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher did not practice with his Chicago Bears teammates Monday, but all indications suggest that his calf injury is minor and will not impact his availability for any portion of the regular season.

The injury sidelined Urlacher during the first series of last Saturday's 32-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Monday, however, Bears coach Lovie Smith insisted the injury was minor.

"He's had an outstanding camp," Smith told reporters. "We need him on the football field. He's the face of the franchise. We need him out there and he will be."

Fellow linebacker Lance Briggs, meanwhile, said he was told the injury "wasn't serious."

Whether Urlacher re-captures his Pro Bowl form this season or simply provides competent linebacker play, he's essential to any hopes the Bears have for a successful season. Neck, wrist and calf injuries have limited Urlacher in recent years, and so it's a bit disconcerting that he couldn't make it past the first quarter of the second preseason game without experiencing another bump. But for now, we'll take Smith's word on his condition.