Brian Urlacher says knee improving

Updated: May 23, 2012, 10:38 AM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher remained a spectator as the club began organized team activities on Tuesday but the veteran expects to be completely healthy when the team opens up training camp in late July.

Urlacher is still recovering from a left knee injury he sustained in the Bears' 17-13 victory in their season finale against the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 1. The perennial Pro Bowl linebacker suffered damage to both the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments when he collided with safety Major Wright while attempting to break up a pass in the end zone.

"Definitely [I'll be ready by] training camp, I think," Urlacher said Tuesday night at a charity bowling event hosted by former teammate Desmond Clark. "The OTAs are not as important. The younger guys need them, I think, because they got [robbed] out of last year's offseason."

The team is scheduled to hold a total of 10 OTAs, including Tuesday's, before staging a veteran minicamp from June 12-14 to wrap up the offseason program. Second year linebacker Dom DeCicco has received the bulk of the reps at middle linebacker while Urlacher continues to rehab the injury.

"[The knee is] getting better," Urlacher said. "I'm on schedule to be out there, so I feel good. At this stage, I think I know the defense pretty well. I'm not worried about being out there and not knowing what I'm doing."

Even entering his 13th season with the Bears, Urlacher is showing no signs of slowing down. The middle linebacker surpassed the 100-tackle plateau for a franchise record 11th time in 2011 en route to being named to his eighth Pro Bowl. He is now one of just four NFL players to register at least 20 interceptions (21) and 40 sacks (41.5) in their career. Urlacher is currently in the last year of a five-year extension he signed in 2008 and is set to earn a base salary of $7.5 million in 2012 with a cap hit of $9.7 million.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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