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(WSCR) The 33-year-old Brian Urlacher has been the face of the Bears franchise for more than a decade.
As is the case with all football players, though, there comes a time when players are no longer productive and must retire. While that time may still be a few years away for the middle linebacker, one NFL expert said the Bears may be in trouble once Urlacher decides to hang up his cleats.
“They don’t have any players behind him,” Matt Bowen of the National Football Post and Chicago Tribune told The Mully and Hanley Show. “They haven’t done a good job at developing linebackers. They need him on the field.
LISTEN: Matt Bowen on The Mully and Hanley Show
“I think the first step is to draft a linebacker this year and start developing the depth of that position. Then, when you get into training camp, you have a guy that can eventually challenge him for that spot. But you have to have that guy first. It sounds easy to say, ‘Well, they probably need to release him. They probably need to move on, eventually.’ But they don’t have anyone else there to play.”
Urlacher will turn 34 before the start of the season and is coming of a severe knee injury suffered in the final game of the season.
“That’s the big thing: Is he going to stay healthy?” Bowen said. “That’s that ultimate judge for any player who is in their 30s. Can they maintain their body? You have to do a lot more to prepare yourself when you’re at his age and that amount of contact he takes each Sunday. … I think there is a lot that goes into getting ready for Sunday compared to when you’re in your 20s. You can kind of skip some of that stuff. You can maybe take a day off from the cold tub, take a day of from stretching – not when you’re at his age. It’s a grind just to be able to get out on the field for practice.”