Urlacher Returns to Practice

Lake Forest - Brian Urlacher went almost five weeks without practicing because of a hamstring injury, but returned to the field Sunday. However he will not play in the Bears preseason finale at Cleveland.

The three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker is expected to be ready for the season opener vs. Detroit despite not playing in a single preseason game.

After missing the conditioning that goes into being able to practice everyday, the team is easing Urlacher back into the shape of things.

"Our plan for 54 was to get him a few reps today," Lovie Smith said. "Tomorrow we're going to rest him, he's not going to play this week, it'll be opening day before you actually see him in the lineup."

Even if Urlacher isn't 100% when the season opens, he's still better than most players.

The hamstring bug has also hit the tight ends hard, as Desmond Clark and John Gilmore missed the bulk of training camp with pulls. Both returned to practice on Sunday and are slated to play against the Browns on Friday.

While Clark may have learned a few things about Terry Shea's offense by watching, there is no substitute for game action.

"There are a lot of things you can't duplicate out here on the practice field that you get in game-time situations," Clark said.

Clark is expected to be an important part of the offense considering the emphasis on the tight end in Shea's system. The departure of Marty Booker to Miami means Clark is the only member of the team with a 50-reception campaign on his resume.

Not so Special: While Bobby Wade's fumbled punt last Friday gave everyone a flashback to the 2003 season opener vs. San Francisco, he's still in the running for return duties.

"No, I wouldn't say Bobby's out," Smith said.

Although it appears Bernard Berrian has emerged as the frontrunner. He had a 23-yard return against New Orleans and is averaging 11.8 yards per attempt on the preseason.

"Really we're very pleased with how 80, that long run that he had as a returner this past week," Smith said of Berrian.

Roster Move: The Bears waived kicker Remy Hamilton and long snapper Brian Pare Sunday.

The mandatory cut-down a 65-man roster is due by Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. CT. The roster now stands at 82, but with eight players receiving the NFL Europe exemption, which doesn't count toward the roster until the final cut-down on Sept. 5, the Bears can keep 73 players.

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