After sitting out for more than a month, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) returned to practice on Monday. Today's first official regular season injury report came out this afternoon and Urlacher was listed as a full participant.
"Full practice for him," coach Lovie Smith said after practice today. "As you look at the injury list as we go forward, if it says full participation, full participation."
Urlacher said yesterday that his knee feels good.
"It felt (Tuesday) like it did yesterday when I woke up -- pain-free, which is all I care about," Urlacher told "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP-AM 1000.
The coaches and training staff will keep a close eye this situation throughout the season. Most likely, Urlacher won't be practicing much during game weeks.
"We're gonna monitor my reps in practice," Urlacher said. "I know we can't do it in a game. There are a lot of teams that the guys 10 or 11 years in, they practice one day a week. I've been lucky enough my whole career not to have to do that because I've been healthy for the most part. But it's not an option this year. I'm going to have to take some reps off in practice so I can be fresh for the whole season."
Although Urlacher feels he's ready to go, Smith said he still reserves the right to sit his Pro Bowl linebacker if it benefits his long-term health.
"Guys of course are always going to say that they’re ready to go, but we’ll always watch them and make that final decision," said Smith. "You want a player to always want to go, but we’ll help him out if it comes to that. But I don’t think it will."
Urlacher's left knee has been the talk of the offseason. After spraining the knee in the season finale last year, he missed OTAs and veteran minicamp this offseason. He went full bore the first four practices of training camp before the knee swelled up, eventually forcing him to have it scoped on Aug. 14.
Yet all indications are that the knee is healed and he'll be ready to go this Sunday versus the Indianapolis Colts. Yet some feel the club should let him sit one more week, so as to make sure he's ready to go for Green Bay in Week 2.
Jay Cutler isn't one of those who wants to see Urlacher sit.
"Our ability to win games and put our defense in the best position is if Urlacher plays," Cutler said today. "That’s the best situation for us."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.