Educational experience

Casey Urlacher played both linebacker and fullback for the Division III Lake Forest College Foresters. Although Urlacher was not picked up during the 2003 NFL draft, he recently signed with the Bears as undrafted free agent. He has been working out with the Bears during the team's mini-camp, held at Halas Hall from June 10-20.

It's great to have this opportunity to work out with the team. I was quite excited when Bears management called my agent and offered me this chance. I'd say that so far the NFL is just about what I had expected. It's a lot of hard work, but every minute is enjoyable to me. This is something that I have wanted my whole life and I'm making the most of it.

Although the practices don't usually last more than an hour during mini-camp, it can be an exhausting routine.

Generally, the players are at Halas Hall at about 8 in the morning. We have two hours of meetings then get ready to go on the field. There's a morning practice followed by more meetings, then an afternoon practice. We are also expected to keep up with our regular workout routines.

As you can imagine, there's a lot to learn during this time period. Everybody wants to make a good impression on the coaches. You're not going to get anywhere in football if you're not noticed.

There's a tremendous amount of competition for each position when you are playing at the NFL level. Sometimes it's all a matter of luck, either good or bad. You never want anybody to get injured, but if somebody does and he happens to play at the same spot that you do, it could be your big chance. Or maybe things turn out really well one day in practice and you perform better than they expect you to. The bottom line is that it's all about getting an invitation to training camp.

We've been lucky that it's been fairly cool during practices. The heat can really get to you if you are going all out. Generally, we have been doing drills, running routes, and getting the kinks out while learning the Bears system. The skill level is very high so you are always working to be the best at what you can do. I'm still adjusting to the speed of the game. I do feel more comfortable as the days go by, but I know there is still room for improvement.

The Bears should be letting us know who will be getting an invitation to Training Camp by the end of this week. I am really hoping that they will want me to come to Bourbonnais. If the worst thing happens, which means that I am not invited to continue with the team, then I know that my name will be out there on the waiver wire. All of the NFL sees that so you never know who might have an opening and give you that call. My preference, of course, is to stay right here.

My other plans at the moment include going back to Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta to work out again with Chip Smith. We will be fine tuning adjustments that I would have to make should I end up playing fullback. The preparations for linebacker and fullback aren't that different, but there are some things I should be addressing. I believe that several of the Bears veterans will be going to Atlanta as well, so that should be an enjoyable time.

After Atlanta, who knows? I have been making inquiries to the Chicago Rush Arena Football team. They have some great coaches and some excellent players. I just heard that several Rush team members have just been picked up by the Packers for this season. If that ends up to be the best route into the NFL, then that's the path I'll take. After all this time and all this work, I'm not ready to give up my dream of playing professional football just yet.

Beth Gorr contributed to this article.

To view Casey Urlacher's official site, "click here."


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