Brian Urlacher says knee is healthy
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said Wednesday that his injured left knee feels good and he plans to be on the practice field when training camp opens July 26. He also acknowledged there may be only "2-3 years" left on what many consider a Hall of Fame career.
The 34-year-old Urlacher is preparing to enter his 13th season, and he believes this Bears team gives him the best chance for his first Super Bowl victory. But he's also coming off a left knee injury suffered in the season finale in Minnesota, and Urlacher knows he can't play forever.
"My back feels great, my neck feels good, my muscles aren't pulling anymore, so that's good," Urlacher said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Everything feels pretty good right now.
"I always say (I want to keep playing) two to three more years. It all depends on how I play on the field, because if I don't play good enough, nobody is going to want me. But if I keep playing well and at a high level, then two to three more years at least, I think."
Urlacher has played his entire career with the Bears, but will he finish it in Chicago? Urlacher's contract is set to expire after the 2012 season, and according to the middle linebacker, there have been no talks regarding a possible extension. Urlacher is set to earn a base salary of $7.5 million in 2012 with a salary cap hit of $9.7 million.
Although Urlacher said "he doesn't plan on going anywhere else" and wants "to play for the Bears forever," he did make it clear he expects to enter free agency next offseason for the first time.
"I want to be here, no doubt about that," Urlacher said. "(Bears president and CEO) Ted Phillips said at the NFL owners meetings that they are going to wait until the season is over to address my situation. That's the mindset I'm taking into this. When the season is over, then we'll talk about it.
"I'll be a free agent when the season is over and whatever happens, happens. From everything that Ted Phillips said I'll be a free agent when the season is over. It's a business. That's the risk you take. If you let a player get to free agency, then they can leave. That's their (decision). They can leave if they want to. That's how it goes."
Urlacher said he feels no extra motivation from the contract situation, and he's optimistic about his health despite being limited to rehab work during the entire offseason program. Urlacher damaged the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee when he collided with safety Major Wright while attempting to break up a pass in the end zone on Jan. 1 against the Vikings.
"There is no issue ... (my knee) is good," Urlacher said. "I should be good to go the first day. As far as I know, I'm practicing.
"I've never had a knee injury, so I don't know how it's going to respond when I start (practicing). (But) it feels great when I run and when I do things, so I don't see it being any different when I get on the football field either."