Whether the Bears are ready to acknowledge it or not, they must be concerned about the condition of Brian Urlacher’s left knee, which has relegated him to observer for most of the past four practices.
The partially torn MCL and PCL that he suffered in the season finale last year prevented him from doing much of anything in the off-season, and not much has changed now that camp has begun. If this were a situation where Urlacher needed to take an occasional day off here and there, no one would raise an eyebrow. But four straight days? That’s troubling.
The situation is severe enough that Urlacher’s availability for Thursday’s preseason opener is in doubt. It would actually be shocking if the seven-time Pro Bowler participated at all against the Broncos at Soldier Field.
It’s not that Urlacher needs to play in a preseason opener, or in the preseason at all, for that matter. He does not. But the regular-season opener is exactly one month away from the Broncos game, and clearly Urlacher is not where he needs to be to continue playing at the Pro Bowl level he performed at last season.
Without him, Nick Roach has been filling in at middle linebacker with Geno Hayes taking Roach’s spot on the strong side. No knock on either Roach or Hayes, but that turns an above-average defense into a mediocre unit, and that might not be enough to get the Bears to the playoffs.