Brian Urlacher has been the face of the Chicago Bears defense since 2000. There was some speculation that that distinction could end when he sprained his MCL and PCL in the final game of the season last year. But, anyone who has followed Urlacher over the last decade knows that he loves football, he loves the Bears and nothing short of losing both of his legs will keep him off the field. In my opinion, there are many signs pointing to a great season in 2012 for the Bears middle linebacker.
Many people feel that, at age 34, Urlacher is too old to be an impact player in the NFL. While, his body may be in decline, you would think he is 24 if you talked to him. The guy has a motor unlike anyone else his age in the NFL. He is just as passionate about the game as he was when he was a fresh faced rookie out of New Mexico. However, you might say, passion can only take you as far as your body will let you. Agreed, but I think he will be in great shape once the season starts.
Urlacher is currently still rehabbing his knee and has already missed some offseason workouts. Lovie says that he will be ready for training camp. I say, let him sit out most of training camp too. Any wear and tear you can keep off of Urlacher the better. He missed much of last offseason due to the strike and came back with 102 tackles, 7 pass deflections and 3 INTs last season. Another offseason missed could actually benefit him at the age of 34.
Finally, Urlacher is in the final year of his contract with the Bears. He is due to be a free agent in 2013, so that means he needs to prove he’s still an elite linebacker in 2012. If you ask Urlacher, he plans on playing for at least a few more seasons. He’s already said that, while he would love to finish his career as a Chicago Bear, he is excited about becoming a free agent a year from now. He knows that he needs to step up his game if he wants to stick around the NFL for a few more seasons.
In addition to the reasons above, the rookie first round pick Shea McClellin, who should see most of his action at DE, will give the Bears a new toy to play with on defense. If you have heard McClellin speak, he’s a smart guy with a good knowledge of the game. Urlacher and Julius Peppers will have a guy they can help mold into a great NFL defender. With Peppers and McClellin up front and Urlacher and Briggs behind them, teams are going to have a hell of a time trying to run the ball. Urlacher is going to get a lot of chances to take the ball away from the defense, something he has made a living off of the past two seasons (5 fumble recoveries, 4 INTs). It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bears middle linebacker made his ninth Pro Bowl after this season.
Oh, and dating Jenny McCarthy has got to keep your spirits up…if you know what I mean.
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