Depth an issue with Brian Urlacher away*

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
10:53
AM ET
As you've probably seen by now, ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson has reported that Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has left the team because of a personal matter involving his mother. Urlacher won't practice Wednesday and his status for the rest of this week, including Sunday's game at the New Orleans Saints, is uncertain.

*Update: Urlacher said in a statement that his mother, Layvoda, "unexpectedly passed away" Monday.

There is really no way to know whether Urlacher will play, so for now let's review the Bears' options if he doesn't:
  1. Strongside linebacker Nick Roach was among the players who played in the middle when Urlacher dislocated his wrist and missed 15 games in 2009. If Roach moved inside, Brian Iwuh could start on the strong side.
  2. Weakside linebacker Lance Briggs could conceivably play in the middle as well, with Iwuh replacing him.
  3. The only other linebacker on the roster is undrafted rookie Dom DeCicco. It's hard to imagine the Bears starting him in Week 2.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo admitted last month that "this year is probably the least amount of depth that we've had" at linebacker. Again, we really don't know how long Urlacher will be away from the team, but it's fairly clear that the Bears don't have a backup middle linebacker who is ready to play at this point. If Urlacher isn't available, they'll have to make changes at two positions to replace him. Stay tuned.

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