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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) – Injured Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher expects to be ready for the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
Urlacher has left knee pain and has not practiced since July 31. He had not talked about his injury situation until Sunday.
“September 9 I’ll be ready to play,” he said. “I’m pretty sure. That’s really all that matters to me.
Urlacher sprained his medial collateral ligament and partially sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in the Bears’ regular-season finale against Minnesota. There was no need for surgery, and he rehabbed the injury throughout the team’s offseason workouts before returning to practice at the start of training camp.
“Preseason games and all these practices, I’d love to be out there, but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy and miss the first game,” Urlacher said. “I practiced the first four or five days and it felt pretty good and it got sore and a little swollen. So I’m taking some time off right now.”
He did not set a timetable for a return to practice, and said he did not seek an outside opinion on the knee.
“It’s hard to tell with an injury like I had what causes (the pain) and why it’s doing this,” he said.
Without Urlacher, the Bears have turned to strong side linebacker Nick Roach playing in the middle.
The eight-time Pro Bowl player had left training camp last week for two days and also was not on the sideline at the preseason opener against Denver on Thursday for what coach Lovie Smith termed, “personal reasons, unrelated” to the knee soreness.
On Sunday, Urlacher would not comment further on the personal reasons he left camp.
Ultimately, Urlacher is hopeful the knee will be pain-free and not a problem that must be managed throughout the regular season.
“I hope it’s 100 (percent),” he said. “I mean, I felt great coming into training camp.”
Smith remains upbeat about Urlacher’s status.
“If a guy isn’t practicing I wouldn’t say that it’s zero,” Smith said about his concern level. “But beyond that, I don’t know. I just know that I feel pretty comfortable about him playing this year and eventually we’ll get him out on the football field when he needs to be before we play the Colts.”
The Bears’ next preseason game is at home Saturday against the Washington Redskins.
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