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Monday, December 3, 2012
Smith offers few details on Bears' injuries

Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Coach Lovie Smith says the Chicago Bears are still evaluating injuries to linebacker Brian Urlacher and several other players in Sunday's overtime loss to Seattle.

Smith indicated Monday that Urlacher pulled a hamstring on the game's final drive, but backed away from that after a follow-up question. Urlacher told a Chicago TV station he was simply sore.

Either way, the Bears (8-4) are banged-up.

They had already lost guard Lance Louis to a season-ending knee injury in the previous game and ruled out Devin Hester (concussion) and guard Chris Spencer (knee) during the week. They lost a few more players in a 23-17 loss to Seattle.

Safety Chris Conte (illness) and receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) left the game, and cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) was injured on the final drive, a few plays before Urlacher hobbled off the field.

Urlacher came up lame in coverage on the game's second-to-last snap, a 12-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin that put the ball on the 13. He was not on the field for Sidney Rice's winning touchdown catch.

Would Urlacher have been able to return had the hamstring issue cropped up earlier in the game?

"Pulled hamstring?" Smith shot back. "What is your question again?"

Asked if Urlacher actually has a pulled hamstring, Smith said, "Hamstring injury to take you out of the game? I'm asking you. What is your question?"

Smith went on to say, "If you have an injury and you can't play, we take you out of the game whenever that happens."

Urlacher told Fox Chicago on Sunday night, "It's not an injury yet. It's just sore. It's a little bit sore right now. It's sore right now. That's all it is is sore right now."

The Bears' next game is at Minnesota, their second against the Vikings' in three weeks, and if Urlacher isn't ready, Nick Roach would likely start at middle linebacker.

The hamstring problem is just the latest issue for the eight-time Pro Bowl player. Urlacher was sidelined almost all of the preseason because of a knee injury and hasn't been as explosive as he was in the past, although he did force an early fumble by Marshawn Lynch that led to the game's first touchdown.

Even if he's not at his physical peak, Urlacher remains an integral part of the defense for his leadership, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, the Bears will have a decision to make.

All that will play out later.

Smith was clear about one thing Monday -- the Bears will not be bringing in another receiver.

They were down three after Bennett went out, with Hester and Alshon Jeffery (knee) sidelined. And Brandon Marshall lobbied after the game for free agent Mike Sims-Walker, his teammate at Central Florida.

Smith insisted that's not happening.

"We're going to go with the guys that we have right now," he said. "We're going to get some guys back this week and we'll be fine."

The Bears hope Jeffery can return this week after missing six of the past seven games -- four with a hand injury before hurting his knee against San Francisco on Nov. 19. The Bears are also hoping Hester and Bennett won't be far behind in coming back from their injuries.

It would help, too, if another receiver stepped up to take the load off Marshall.

He has 91 of the Bears' 217 receptions and nearly half of their 2,436 yards receiving with 1,182. Part of the lack of distribution to other targets falls on the blocking, with Jay Cutler often rushed and with no time to find his second or third option.

But the other receivers aren't without blame. Jeffery has shown promise opposite Marshall at times, but Smith would like to see more from that group.

"I think we've been saying that for a while, someone needs to (step up)," he said. "I think the guys will say that. Hopefully, we still have time. Hopefully, we'll get Alshon Jeffery back. He has wanted to move into that role when he's been healthy. Hopefully, we get Devin Hester back in the mix. We're getting plays from Earl. Eric Weems (Sunday) did some good things."

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