Aug. 31, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Brian Urlacher's pulled hamstring is healed and he's back on the practice field, realizing how much he missed football and vowing to be ready for the season opener.

"I've never been injured, so I don't know how to react," Urlacher said Tuesday before his second practice session since he was hurt July 28 during the first workout of training camp. "I'm just going to do what they tell me to do and just get ready for Detroit."

Urlacher won't play in Friday's preseason finale at Cleveland but plans to play for sure in the Sept. 12 season opener against the Lions at Soldier Field.

"I know that I'll be ready to go against Detroit, and that's all that matters," he added.

And he promises he won't play tentatively or have concerns about getting injured again.

"I'm not too worried about it. I'm pretty sure it's healed," the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker said.

Urlacher has never missed a game in his four-year NFL career. He said he once missed a game when he was a junior in high school after breaking his wrist, but he played the next week.

He pulled up during a scrimmage less than an hour into the first workout of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. He said he stepped awkwardly while making a play.

He's been forced to watch and rehab while the Bears defense he leads learns a new system under first-year coach Lovie Smith.

"I definitely missed it. Just to be able to do what you want to do all the time when you're healthy is a huge thing," he said. "I definitely appreciate being able to play every day. I know that much."

The addition of pass rusher Adewale Ogunleye at defensive end and the return of Urlacher should give a big lift to a Bears defense that has lost defensive backs Jerry Azumah and R.W. McQuarters for an undetermined amount of time.

"He makes everyone on the defense better," Bears quarterback Rex Grossman said. "Everybody can do that much more because he can cover so much ground."


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