Bears’ Brian Urlacher: Turf situation is a joke
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org August 6, 2011 10:04PM
Brian Urlacher would like to have FieldTurf at Soldier Field and said it would benefit the Bears, but safety Chris Harris (above) said he still prefers grass. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images
Updated: September 8, 2011 12:51AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Linebacker Brian Urlacher is just as incredulous as a lot of Bears regarding the chronic turf issues at Soldier Field.
‘‘I don’t understand why they don’t have FieldTurf yet,’’ Urlacher said Saturday at training camp. ‘‘We’re a fast team. We play fast on FieldTurf. The injury issues aren’t as bad as they used to be. They’ve gone down a lot in the last few years with the way they’ve made the turf. So I don’t understand it. Use our speed. Let us get out there and run.”
The artificial turf became an issue again Friday night when the Bears’ Family Fest had to be canceled because open seams from a recent resodding at Soldier Field made the playing conditions hazardous. The Bears returned to Bourbonnais and practiced late Friday night.
‘‘The situation’s a joke,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘I don’t understand why you can’t have the field ready. It sucks for the fans because I’m sure it was a pain in the butt to get down there with all the traffic. But I think Coach [Lovie Smith] did the right thing in not letting us practice on that stuff. We ended up having a late practice, but it’s too bad it had to end that way.’’
Bears president George McCaskey, in Canton, Ohio, for Richard Dent’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, apologized to Bears fans for the Family Fest fiasco.
While McCaskey said the Bears and the Chicago Park District grounds crew have a “good working relationship,” he also said the organization will attempt to work even closer with the Park District crew to make sure nothing like that happens again.
‘‘We feel so bad for the fans,’’ McCaskey said. ‘‘We’re so sorry for those people who sat in traffic. We rely on the Park District to make sure the field is playable. We need to make sure that’s the case.’’
Grass is greener
Not all the Bears prefer the artificial surface.
‘‘I love playing on natural grass compared to FieldTurf,’’ safety Chris Harris said. ‘‘But you would think we wouldn’t have a problem with grass in August. I couldn’t figure that one out.’’
Harris celebrated his 29th birthday by practicing in steamy conditions, signing autographs for fans near the practice fields afterward, then going to team meetings.
‘‘I’m just happy to be in the NFL — that’s a great-enough birthday gift for me,’’ the native of Little Rock, Ark., said. ‘‘My wife sent me a video message on the phone, so I got to see the kids. They sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me this morning, so that was cool.’’
Roy: Jay’s ‘my guy’
Wide receiver Roy Williams said quarterback Jay Cutler ‘‘is going to get it done’’ and deserves the full support of Bears fans.
‘‘[He’s] still learning,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Still young — that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. He’s still young and growing and learning the game. He’s going to get it done. I want the city of Chicago to believe in this guy and back him up. Of course he’s going to make mistakes. Who doesn’t? He’s my guy.’’
Third-year defensive tackle Henry Melton did not start a game last season but played well enough in a reserve role to get first shot at Tommie Harris’ vacated tackle spot. Matt Toeaina, who started 10 games in place of Harris last season, has been rotating with the first unit.
‘‘[Melton is] everything you’re looking for in a defensive lineman — quickness, speed, strength,’’ Smith said of the 6-3, 295-pound Melton. ‘‘He’s gotten his weight up [from 260 last season]. He just needs to continue to get reps. He’s working hard, and I’m expecting a big year from him.’’
Contributing: Neil Hayes