POTASH: Brian Urlacher’s injury just one of Bears’ many concerns
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com December 4, 2012 9:36PM
In this Dec. 2, 2012, photo, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) walks off the field following their 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in Chicago. Urlacher's status for this Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings and beyond is in question after he was injured on the final drive of their game against the Seahawks. The Chicago Tribune, citing sources, reported Tuesday, Dec. 4, that he is expected to miss three games and possibly the rest of the regular season. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Updated: January 6, 2013 10:07AM
injury is the least of the Bears’ problems.
That Urlacher suffered a hamstring injury and might miss the rest of the regular season isn’t a big surprise. He’s 34, coming off knee surgery and can’t move like he used to.
His recuperative powers are impressive. But no matter how smart Urlacher plays, he’s still human. His big concession to a bum knee was to play 29 snaps against the Colts. Four days later, he played all 68 snaps against the Packers. He has played 97 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps
since the opener. It was bound to happen.
The worse news for the Bears is all the company Urlacher has in the trainers’ room. In the last two games, nine starters have been unable to finish because of injury. This is a team that was uncommonly healthy all season. Through 10 games, receivers Alshon Jeffery (five games) and Earl Bennett (two games), tight end Kyle Adams (one game) and fullback Evan Rodriguez (two games) were the only regulars to miss time because of injury.
‘‘We’ve got to get everybody healthy, and we have to have some guys on the second line step up,’’ defensive end Julius Peppers said.
What the Bears need most is a bye because they’re showing all the signs of a team wearing down and showing its age.
They’re getting beat up and pushed around. The 49ers mauled them. Matt Forte fumbled on his first carry against the Vikings when he bumped into Rodriguez, a blocking back who had been pushed into the backfield. Michael Bush had been 3-for-3 on fourth-and-one conversions but was stopped cold by the Seahawks. The Bears have lost more players to injury in their last two games than they did in their first 10.
And they ran out of gas Sunday. A rookie quarterback at his 3-yard line who needs a touchdown with 3:40 left against Peppers, Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman should be a mismatch. Instead, Russell Wilson drove the Seahawks 97 yards for a touchdown in regulation, then 80 yards for the winning touchdown in overtime.
And here’s yet another red flag: The Bears are a bend-but-don’t-break defense that broke three times against the Seahawks, allowing touchdown drives of 94, 97 and 80 yards.
That just doesn’t happen around here under Lovie Smith. The last time the Bears allowed two touchdown drives of 90 or more yards in the same game was against the Vikings in 2003. After going 31 consecutive games without allowing a 90-yard touchdown drive, the Bears have allowed three in their last three games.
The bad news for the Bears isn’t just that Urlacher is out, it’s that the Vikings’ Percy Harvin is ready to come back this week and that the Packers’ Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Charles Woodson (broken collarbone) might be ready to play against them Dec. 16 at Soldier Field.
Not only are the Bears getting worse, but everybody else seems to be getting better. And having better luck.
The Vikings lost safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph to possible concussions Nov. 25 against
the Bears. Both started last week against the Packers and will be there Sunday at the Metrodome. So will defensive end Jared Allen, two weeks after he knocked Lance Louis out for the season.
Maybe karma might change the Bears’ fortunes. At the rate they’re losing players, it might be their only hope.