Brian Urlacher says knee better

Updated: August 12, 2012, 6:24 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher reiterated on Sunday that his recent absences from training camp came as a result of a "personal reason, just like coach (Lovie) Smith said," while adding that he'll be healthy enough to play in the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

Asked about a timetable for his return to the field, Urlacher said, "September 9, I'll be ready to play for sure."

Urlacher missed six consecutive workouts entering the team's preseason-opening loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, which the linebacker didn't attend.

Four of the absences were attributed to soreness in his left knee, in which he sprained the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments during the Bears' 2011 regular-season finale. The other two absences last Tuesday and Wednesday were excused by the team so Urlacher could deal with a personal matter.

"(The season opener is) all that matters to me," Urlacher said. "Preseason games and all these practices -- I'd love to be out there -- but I'm not gonna put myself in jeopardy of missing the first game."

Urlacher returned to training camp Saturday, but the club held him out of practice. Smith revealed that Urlacher continues to battle soreness in the knee, saying "exactly when he'll be back, I can't tell you that."

Surely, the Bears aren't rushing Urlacher back. Urlacher indicated the soreness he's experienced in the knee isn't directly related to his excused absences from practice and Thursday night's exhibition opener.

Urlacher said the knee feels better, but is unsure whether it's an issue that will linger throughout the season. The eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker also indicated that he didn't undergo additional testing on the knee during his absence.

"Our doctors are the best. I trust what they say. I just do what I'm told to do," Urlacher said. "I practiced the first four or five days (of training camp) and felt pretty good. Then it got sore and a little swollen. So I'm taking some time off right now."

Urlacher remains unconcerned about how the knee will react upon his return to the practice field because he expects the team to "monitor my reps and try to make sure it doesn't blow up again."

So it wouldn't come as a surprise if the club held out Urlacher for the remainder of the preseason in an attempt to reduce the potential setbacks that could occur by exposing the knee to contact.

Asked whether the knee ever will be 100 percent this season, Urlacher said, "I hope."

"I felt great coming into training camp," he said. "The brace doesn't allow me to do a lot of things, but (I) still ran pretty fast and moved around pretty good (early in camp). I've been off for nine or 10 days now. It feels better. I'm not running around on it of course, (so) it's not gonna swell up as bad."

Smith acknowledged Saturday the team is "pretty banged up" at the linebacker position, which is why they signed Xavier Adibi and K.C. Asiodu. Jabara Williams has missed time with a hamstring injury and Dom DeCicco is expected to miss an extended period because of a pulled groin.

"As you look down the football field today, we had five linebackers out of uniform," Smith said Saturday. "It's hard to practice that way."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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