Bears LB Brian Urlacher out at least three games with hamstring injury
BY SEAN JENSEN email@example.com December 4, 2012 9:24PM
In this Dec. 2, 2012, photo, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) walks off the field following their 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in Chicago. Urlacher's status for this Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings and beyond is in question after he was injured on the final drive of their game against the Seahawks. The Chicago Tribune, citing sources, reported Tuesday, Dec. 4, that he is expected to miss three games and possibly the rest of the regular season. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: January 6, 2013 10:06AM
The Bears will prepare for the final playoff push without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, at least for three games, according to two league sources.
An MRI exam revealed a strained right hamstring, and Urlacher and the Bears are targeting a postseason return — if they make it.
It’s unclear the severity of Urlacher’s injury. But Dr. Daniel Kharrazi said Urlacher can accelerate his return with a low-risk option: a platelet-rich plasma injection.
‘‘There’s no risk involved, and it’s a two-minute injection,’’ said Kharrazi, an orthopedic surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles who is a consultant for the Los Angeles Lakers. ‘‘It’s pretty commonly used nowadays, used for a lot of muscular issues. You’re isolating the growth factors and the natural products in your own blood that speed up the healing. It helps with the healing up to 50 percent.’’
For a Grade 1 hamstring injury, the patient would experience stiffness, Kharrazi said, and a professional athlete might not miss any time. A Grade 2 is a formal partial tear, while a Grade 3 is a complete ‘‘disruption of the fibers.’’ Urlacher’s season would be over if he had suffered a Grade 3, Kharrazi said.
Grade 2 hamstring injuries are common, and former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward took a PRP injection for a sprained knee ligament in order to play in Super Bowl XLIII. The usual recovery time from a Grade 2 would be four to six weeks.
‘‘PRP would speed it up to two to three weeks, potentially,’’ Kharrazi said.
Urlacher is in the final year of his contract. Asked if he has played his last game for the Bears, Urlacher told FOX 32 News: “I do not think that’s going to happen. But if it does, I have had a really good and long career, so I would be sad, but I would not be crushed.”
Urlacher, 34, who always has been aggressive about returning to the field, has had a frustrating year, given his posterior cruciate ligament sprain in last season’s finale against the Minnesota Vikings. He missed most of training camp, undergoing a knee scope in August, but returned for the regular season and was effective, with coach Lovie Smith usually giving him one practice day to rest.
He leads the Bears with 88 tackles, and he’s tied with Lance Briggs for a team-high seven tackles for loss. He also has four quarterback pressures, one interception, seven passes defended, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
On the second-to-last play of Sunday’s 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Urlacher waved for assistance at the end of a 12-yard completion. On the next play, receiver Sidney Rice scored the game-winning, 13-yard touchdown.
The Bears are expected to slide strong-side linebacker Nick Roach to Urlacher’s spot in the middle; then veteran Geno Hayes will play strong-side.
For depth, the Bears re-signed Dom DeCicco on Tuesday and released Patrick Trahan.
The Bears (8-4) enter a crucial stretch in which they head to Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, then return for a game at Soldier Field against the Green Bay Packers, who defeated them in Week 2. They finish on the road at Arizona and Detroit.
Despite playing three of their final four away from home, the Bears only face one team (the Packers) with a winning record.
Historically, though, the Bears haven’t fared well without Urlacher, their eight-time Pro Bowler. They’re just 7-15 in games Urlacher hasn’t played since he was drafted in 2000.
It would be Roach’s fourth start at middle linebacker. While he’s intelligent and certainly more athletic than Urlacher, Urlacher has a mastery of the position in Smith’s defense, and he and Briggs play well off one another.