|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With his team needing a win and some help to make the playoffs, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith is hopeful Brian Urlacher will return for the regular season finale against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
"We are definitely thinking that way," Smith said after the Bears' 28-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. "I would just say he's making a lot of improvement."
Urlacher missed his third straight game on Sunday since suffering a grade 2 hamstring strain late in the Bears' overtime loss against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 2.
Urlacher arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday approximately four hours before kickoff Sunday to test out his injured hamstring in front of the club's head athletic trainer Chris Hanks, director of rehabilitation Bobby Slater and a team physician.
Urlacher spent roughly 30 minutes participating in a variety of agility drills, including sideline to sideline and lateral movement running. Urlacher looked to be at full-speed when he attempted on several occasions to drop back into coverage out of his linebacker's stance. The eight-time Pro Bowler appeared to move well going in and out of his breaks and did not seem to be limited during the workout.
"We didn't want him to let anyone see him running out there, but I know he's feeling pretty good about where he is," Smith said. "If he's ready to go, good, and if not, Nick Roach is doing a great job."
At 9-6, the Bears need to beat the Lions and have the Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings for Chicago to reach the playoffs.