Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and still hopes to be ready for the season opener.
The Bears said that Urlacher had an arthroscopic procedure on Tuesday morning to help relieve swelling in the knee and was back at training camp by 10 a.m. He missed the offseason training program after spraining the medial collateral ligament and partially spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in the final game last season against Minnesota.
"The treatment that we were giving Brian, he didn’t respond as well as we wanted it to," coach Lovie Smith said after Tuesday’s practice. "So we had it scoped this morning, a minor scope on his knee. Everything came out the way that we wanted it to."
Urlacher was ready for the start of camp, but has not practiced since July 31 and was away from the team recently for what were described as personal reasons. Even so, he said Sunday that he expects to be ready for the opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 9.
Urlacher told WFLD Fox-32 in Chicago on Monday that he didn’t know if he could have the surgery and return in two weeks.
"I am just going to keep resting right now," he said. "I have never had a scope. I don’t know how that stuff works. This is the first time I have ever done anything to my knee so I am kind of new to this. I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know how that works."
Urlacher acknowledged that the knee could be an issue all season, adding, "I don’t see it getting any better during the season. We have to manage it, my reps in practice, and then get through Sunday."
The Bears had all offseason to address the injury in a different way, but Smith said there was no indication he needed surgery until recently when Urlacher began have problems.
"We followed protocol in what we thought we should do at the time," he said. "And now that we’re here going back to last season doesn’t help an awful lot.
"Right now Brian got the knee scoped. He’s feeling really good about that. Again that’s about all you can do right now to put the knee in the best possible position to be ready for the first game."
This is an important season for Urlacher, a 13-year veteran and mainstay for the Chicago defense. He has an expiring contract and is prepared to enter free agency, although he would like to remain with the Bears.
Without Urlacher, Nick Roach has moved over from strong side linebacker to the middle and Geno Hayes is playing strong side. Roach had to play the position in 2009 for three games after Urlacher suffered a season-ending dislocated wrist in the opener.
Defensive players called the latest surgery a minor setback.
"It’s a very long season," linebacker Lance Briggs said. "We have 16 games of getting to the playoffs in order to get ourselves into a position to play in the Super Bowl, to win the thing. That’s what we have to keep in perspective."
He noted that Urlacher was back at camp: "He’s a competitor and in his heart, he wants to be out on the field playing football with the rest of us, and it really tears at him that he can’t do that right now."