Let the shuffling begin

Nobody could replace Brian Urlacher, but it was Lance Briggs' turn to step in at middle linebacker on Thursday.

While Urlacher is going to miss significant time, the results of an MRI he had taken today will tell how long he'll be sidelined.

"Hamstrings you can go from a tear to a minor sprain. There's a lot of different degrees of hamstring pulls that you can have so we're trying to (find out). And after we get that we'll know for sure," Smith said.

"Where hoping that it's not the worst for him, but it's not a season ending injury. He'll be back, but right now we're getting a chance to look at some different options for us in case certain things happen during the year."

At this point they're trying to find a solution to the hole left by Urlacher's absence.

Briggs started 13 games on the strong-side as rookie. When Lovie Smith took over as head coach he decided to move Briggs to the weakside in an attempt to take advantage of his playmaking ability. However at Arizona he played middle linebacker, so in a sense he's back home.

"(I'm very) comfortable at (middle linebacker)," Briggs said. "To step on the field, you've got to have a lot of confidence and I have plenty of confidence."

It's been a while since Briggs has had to make defensive calls, which could be the biggest adjustment in the switch. At this point the coaching staff is he's hoping he'll become more of a vocal leader on the field.

"The football part is very similar. The Mike and Will are close together, they're one gap over so that won't be a big adjustment for him," Smith said. "Just being in charge, being a leader. And really it's kind of good, we would like for Lance to grow a little bit on that so now we're just forcing his hand a little bit quicker.

"We told him (he'd be playing middle linebacker) last night and a big smile came on his face and he probably stayed up a little bit later then he normally would. He does need to cram, which he's doing.

Taking Briggs place on the weakside is Marcus Reese, who completed a successful season in NFL Europe. The Bears fell his speed is the best fit for the defense.

"We saw some things we liked an awful lot and it's a good chance to really get a chance to evaluate him right now. So we'll give the first crack," Smith said.

Fourth-round pick Leon Joe will also be a part of the mix. Joe Odom, who started three games at weakside last year, will remain at strong-side.

The defense Reese played in with the Cologne Centurions is similar to what Smith runs, so he should be able to grasp the scheme quickly. The once long shot to make the 53-man roster recovered a fumble in a an eleven-on-eleven drill and had the spotlight thrust upon him after the morning practice.

"This is my first year so of course I am going to be a little surprised (about being put in with the first unit," said Reese, who spent the majority of his rookie year with the 49ers squad before finishing the season on the Bears practice squad.

Urlacher isn't the only player nursing an injury. Marty Booker, Bernard Berrian, Mike Gandy, John Tait and Alex Brown have missed time because of muscle pulls.

None of the problems are considered serious and the Bears are taking the conservative approach.

"Right now we're just being cautious again with hamstrings they're tough.

Jerry Azumah had to leave practice with a stinger after getting tangled up with Jamin Elliott. While the cornerback returned to practice and isn't expected to miss any time, the competitive nature of the camp could be pushing some players over the edge to impress they're new coaches.

"It's the second day of practice; guys want to go a little faster then they're probably ready to," Smith said.

The Bears cut kicker Joe O'Donnell today. The 5-10, 215-pounder signed with the Bears during the off-season. The Maryland product is a four-year veteran of professional football, the last two coming with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. Prior to his NFLEL stint, O'Donnell was a member of the Arena Football League's Florida Bobcats from 2000-01. O'Donnell went to training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 and Oakland Raiders in 2003.

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