Bears’ Urlacher Ready for the Season
Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is a longtime Egoscue client. He’s been working like a mad man for several seasons now to get his body in the best shape possible. Sounds like he’s coming along nicely, and I’d say this is fair warning to the rest of the league. You now have a 260 pound linebacker who can most likely catch you from behind. Keep up the great work, Brian.
BOURBONNAIS — The pass was a laser over the middle, high and fast enough for any quarterback to let it go without worry. But Brian Urlacher somehow managed to twist his body and shoot his arms in the air to intercept Jay Cutler.
It was one of those old Urlacher plays that have been too few lately.
“I’m back,” Urlacher said when asked about the play. “I feel good again. It feels good to be able to move around. I can run and sprint now. I even look fast sometimes.
“It has been two years since I felt normal. I still have aches and pains. I’m 31 years old — I’m going to have pains. But I’m moving as well as I have in a long time, and it’s exciting.”
It’s also exciting for Urlacher to be playing with a quarterback like Cutler. He labeled reports of friction “absurd” and lit up when talking about Cutler’s play.
“You’ve seen him out there, the throws he makes,” Urlacher said during a break in training camp at Olivet Nazarene. “He does things with his shoulders and his eyes and his head. He know he’s going here, but he’ll give you a little dip this way, which gives him this much room. It’s unbelievable.
“I’ve never been around a guy who does the subtle things he does. He knows our defense, when we’re cheating. He makes it hard to figure out where we need to be.”
But for all of the juice Cutler has brought the Bears, it won’t matter much unless Urlacher can carry the defense back to where it was a few years ago.
His neck is not an issue, he says. His back stiffens on him every now and then, but it is not a problem.
Urlacher didn’t have to spend the off-season rehabbing from surgery or working around an injury. Nor was he burdened with contract issues. People who know him say he is happier than he has been in a while.
The only thing he had to do in the last several months was prepare for a football season. And that he did, spending the entire off-season with the team for the first time since 2006. He did whatever strength coach Rusty Jones told him to do, which included a lot of explosive training.
Urlacher decided to play about 10 pounds heavier than he was a year ago. He’s at 258 now, closer to his playing weight before 2008.
“I felt I needed to lose weight last year to take pressure off my neck,” he said. “But I didn’t feel comfortable playing that light. I didn’t feel strong. I got pushed around at times.”
He heard the criticism from others after a season in which he failed to lead the team in tackles for only the second time in his career. Urlacher had 107 tackles, his lowest NFL total, excluding 2004, when he played only nine games. He also had no sacks and only two interceptions.
His fans weren’t the only ones disappointed.
“I wasn’t happy with last year, put it that way,” Urlacher said. “It wasn’t one of those years I’ll look back on and remember as a good year. I’d like to forget it.”
Urlacher is not one of these delusional athletes who has watched too much Peter Pan. He understands the aging process and where he is in his career.
“I’m not as fast as I used to be,” he said. “I was watching some film of my first couple of years. I was fast. I’m not that fast, but I still move pretty well for someone who is old in our business. I still feel I can run with these young boys.”
Urlacher has good football left in him. He says he would like to play another three to five years, depending on his performance.
“I’ll know when it’s time,” he said. “If I can’t produce the way I want to, it will be time.”
Right now, it’s time to get in front of the TV. It’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel, he points out.
That’s appropriate because he’s playing like one again.