Brian Urlacher's knee 'feels good'

Updated: July 25, 2012, 6:19 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher reiterated Wednesday after the team took physicals that his left knee is fully healthy, which means his availability for practice shouldn't be in question once the team takes the field Thursday for workouts.

"Every practice that they let me go, I'm going," Urlacher said. "(Coach) Lovie (Smith) gives us days off sometimes when we don't expect them. So we'll see how that goes."

Urlacher sprained his left medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in a collision with safety Major Wright as the two converged to break up a pass in the end zone of the team's 2011 season-ending win over the Minnesota Vikings. Surgery wasn't required to repair the injury, only rest.

As a precautionary measure, the team held Urlacher out of offseason workouts, including organized team activities and minicamps. Although he didn't participate in team drills, Urlacher -- wearing a small brace on the knee -- typically ran sprints on the side of the practice field, in addition to performing drills that involved backpedaling.

Urlacher appeared to be at or near 100 percent during workouts, and says he's fully healthy as he prepares to play his 13th NFL season.

"I feel good. I'm excited to be here. I'm excited about our team that we have together. I'm just ready to start practicing tomorrow," Urlacher said. "(The knee) feels good."

Having reached 100 tackles a franchise-record 11 times, Urlacher enters the final season of his contract and is set to earn $7.5 million in base salary. The team hasn't approached Urlacher about possibly restructuring his deal and the sides haven't yet seriously discussed an extension, he said.

Despite Urlacher's age (33), the linebacker remains highly productive, and club officials continue to express confidence in his ability to remain so. General manager Phil Emery avoided directly addressing Urlacher's situation on Tuesday but said, "I've talked to him, and I'm excited about Brian, and this season, and our team."

As for Urlacher, he admitted that teams openly discuss high expectations every season, "because it's the right thing to say." But going into 2012, Urlacher honestly "think(s) we can do it this year."

"I think we have the talent now to reach our expectations," Urlacher said. "We're stacked at every position. As a team, we've got to be more consistent on both sides of the football. Defensively, that's all I'm worried about, being good against the run and the pass. Getting sacks, turnovers ... we've always done since Lovie's been here.

"Offensively, I think we'll be able to run the football. They'll be able throw with Brandon (Marshall). If we just protect our quarterback, we should be all right."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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