Brian Urlacher avoids questions

Updated: August 22, 2012, 11:22 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher avoided questions Wednesday regarding whether he sought treatment on his healing left knee over the spring in Europe.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Urlacher traveled overseas seeking treatment that didn't involve surgery for his injured left knee, in which he sprained the medial collateral and posterior cruticate ligaments during the 2011 regular-season finale at Minnesota.

Asked about the report, which stated the linebacker visited "that famous doctor everybody goes to," Urlacher said, "Heard about that. (Are) there any quotes from me in there? Yeah, I didn't think there were any quotes from me, or anybody else."

Eventually on Aug. 14, Urlacher underwent an arthroscopic clean-up procedure on the left knee.

"It doesn't matter what I did or what I haven't done," Urlacher said. "This is where we're at now. So that's really all that matters."

Pressed further on the matter, Urlacher, seemingly irritated by the line of questioning, said, "Like I just told you, I went to Europe last year. We played in London. I was definitely in Europe last year."

An eight-time Pro Bowler, Urlacher insists he'll be ready to play in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, despite having missed the majority of training camp aside from a few practice sessions during the first week.

Urlacher injured the knee during a collision with safety Major Wright, a play in which both attempted to converge on a potential interception in the end zone.

The injury forced Urlacher to miss all of the club's offseason workouts, including organized team activities and minicamps. Comcast SportsNet Chicago reported Urlacher underwent multiple procedures.

Bears coach Lovie Smith also avoided questions regarding any potential treatments Urlacher may have undergone.

"Once you come up with someone that says (on the record) this happened then I can respond to it. We've already responded to all of that," Smith said. "I think you got a chance to talk to Brian a little while ago. I know right now Brian Urlacher is here. He's getting healthy every day. I don't see what else we need to talk about."

Asked whether the reports are true, Smith said, "You tell me."

"I've told you all that I'm gonna do as far as talking about it," Smith said. "I should have made that perfectly clear."

After participating in the first several practices of training camp in late July, Urlacher experienced soreness in the knee, which forced him to miss every workout session since, in addition to the club's first two preseason outings. Some of Urlacher's absences came as a result of what the club described as "personal" reasons.

Unsolicited, Smith brought up the Urlacher situation Wednesday near the end of a nearly seven-minute meeting with reporters.

"Going back to Brian Urlacher one more time, and just in general, through the year, we're not gonna respond to every article or every person that comes out there and says something," Smith said. "If we have information, we'll give it to you. From there, I think you can understand on things that we don't want to talk about. We don't talk about injuries in general. So I'm not gonna go over everything that's been happening since then, except for to tell you he's here right now.

"He's getting better, and we're expecting him to play the first game."

In the days leading up to his recent arthroscopic surgery, Urlacher denied in a one-on-one interview with Fox Chicago that he had undergone any other procedures on the knee up to that point. CSNChicago.com reported Thursday that Urlacher's procedure on Aug. 14 actually was the third done on his knee since the end of last season.

Defensive end Israel Idonije defended Urlacher, and indicated the linebacker's methods for taking care of his body are a private matter.

"At the end of the day, if you are doing what is necessary to be healthy it's your business. Every time I go to a yoga class, I don't have to let the team know. Every time I go and work out, I don't have to let the team know," Idonije said. "At the end of the day, those are things that go toward maintaining my body and taking care of my body.

"It's our responsibility. The team knows we are doing what's in our best interests because, ultimately, it's in the team's best interests as well."

The upcoming regular season is important for Urlacher, who's entering the last year of his contract. Bears management has said there won't be any negotiations during the season, and while Urlacher said he wants to remain with the team that drafted him in 2000, he's prepared to see what's available via free agency.

Urlacher is scheduled to earn $7.5 million in base salary in 2012, and has already received a $500,000 workout bonus.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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