July 28, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears had been on the practice field for less than an hour Wednesday when new coach Lovie Smith saw four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher crumple to the ground.

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Urlacher stumbled out of a scrimmage drill and fell to the ground with an injury to his right hamstring. Trainers wrapped his leg with an ice pack and took him off the field on a golf cart.

"He's got a pretty good pull," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "We'll know more tomorrow."

Urlacher was scheduled to have an MRI Thursday morning, but Angelo and Smith weren't optimistic that he would be able to return soon.

"Hamstrings, they need rest," Smith said after the 90-minute practice at the team's Olivet Nazarene University training base. "He'll have to sit out, which he won't like. It's going to be weeks, probably."

The Bears were practicing in shorts and helmets Wednesday and the scrimmage was light contact only. Urlacher went down after colliding with another player.

Second-year player Hunter Hillenmeyer and rookie Jeremy Cain will get plenty of work with Urlacher out, Smith said. If the injury persists deep into training camp, second-year linebacker Lance Briggs, who started 13 games and had 81 tackles as a rookie, could be shifted into Urlacher's middle linebacker role, the coach said.

"We've talked about developing our depth at the linebacker position," Smith said. "We're going to have to do it a little quicker than we wanted to."

Smith acknowledged he was nervous beginning his first training camp as an NFL head coach, but said he was reasonably happy with the first practice.

"We kind of set a bar, that's what you want to do as much as anything, set the bar," he said. "Tomorrow morning, we'll be in pads and the intensity will pick up quite a bit."

Quarterback Rex Grossman, expected to be the starter, was among those trying to work out early kinks. He threw several passes at his receivers' feet.


Seeing Brian Urlacher carted off the field is not how the Bears wanted to start training camp.(AP)
"It's going to take a little bit of time to get the rhythm of it," he said.

Off the field, the Bears agreed to terms with their two remaining unsigned rookies, first-round draft pick Tommie Harris and third-round pick Bernard Berrian.

Harris, who won the Lombardi Trophy at Oklahoma last year as the nation's top interior lineman, agreed to a five-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

"He's our first-round pick, he's a big part of what we're going to do this year," Smith said. "We're very excited about getting him here."

The 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle was expected at camp Thursday. Harris was a first-team All-American as a sophomore and junior, logging nine sacks and 33 tackles in those two seasons. He left college early to enter the NFL draft.

Berrian, a wide receiver from Fresno State, agreed to a four-year deal. The two-time All-American holds the school record at Fresno State with 5,828 career all-purpose yards.




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