Bears' Urlacher remains 'face of the franchise'
SEP 12, 2012 4:22p ET
"(Urlacher) is the face of our franchise (and) that's not going to change," Smith said in a conference call this week.
Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection during his 12 seasons in Chicago, isn't the same dominant player that he once was. Now, at age 34, Urlacher is attempting to play through a left knee injury as he prepares to face the division-rival Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.
In Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, Urlacher only played 29 of the team's 66 defensive snaps.
"He had an injury," Smith said. "A lot of guys go through injuries. I thought last week was a good start for him. He was old Brian. We assume he'll get more (snaps) this week.
"And for him, when you're the face of the franchise, you've done everything. He's smart, can make all the calls, with man coverage playing the run (and) in zone coverage he has excellent hand. He can do it all."
The ratings handed out by ProFootballFocus.com, however, tell a much different story of Urlacher's performance this past weekend. Their experts assessed Urlacher's contributions as a negative 2.4 overall, the worst on the entire Bears defense. Their report has Urlacher dropping into coverage on 19 of his 29 plays, with his only impact on the statistical breakdown being two tackles.
Urlacher has had recent success against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Last season, Urlacher picked off Rodgers in Week 3 in Chicago, one of only six interceptions that the NFL's Most Valuable Player threw all year.
But with only four days between games, a banged-up veteran like Urlacher may not recover as quickly and be ready to slow down Rodgers.
"In a short week, this is a little bit tougher," Smith said of Urlacher. "But when you're playing your rival, those things won't really matter in the end."
Urlacher did not practice Monday or Tuesday, but he was a full participant in Chicago's Wednesday practice and is officially listed as probable to play in the game.
When Rodgers was asked about Urlacher this week, he didn't say much.
"Looks like he's moving around pretty good," Rodgers said. "I would expect him to be ready to go."
Urlacher may still be the face of the Bears' franchise, but that is mostly on reputation at this point in his career. With Jay Cutler throwing passes to Brandon Marshall and Julius Peppers chasing down quarterbacks at an elite level, the Packers have plenty of threats to deal with in order to avoid starting the season with an 0-2 record. But with Urlacher's knee causing him problems, he doesn't appear to still be the type of player who could have a significant impact on the game.
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