Banks Stirs The Pot

LAKE FOREST -- Tony Banks better watch his back Sunday.<p> At least better than he does his mouth. The Washington Redskins quarterback fueled the fire for Sunday's showdown with the Bears when he talked about linebacker Brian Urlacher Wednesday.<p>

   Banks was asked to compare Urlacher to star middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who he played with in Baltimore last season.

   Banks said he's "seen better" linebackers. Talking with the Washington media, Banks said he was impressed with Urlacher, but, "I'm not going to think he's a world-beater. I've been around the only world-beater at that middle linebacker position."

   The news got back to Urlacher on Thursday at Halas Hall.

   "He played in Baltimore, so I think he was comparing me to Ray," Urlacher said. "But he made it sound like I'm just some chump who doesn't know how to play. I know Ray's a great linebacker, but it just sounded like he was comparing me to everybody else, just any old guy off the street.

   "Whatever. He can say whatever he wants. He's still go to show up on Sunday."

   Urlacher, last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, might not be in the same category as the well-established Lewis, last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the Super Bowl MVP, but he's no pushover either.

   "I'm not taking anything personally," Urlacher said. "I'll play the same way I do every week. If I get to blitz and I get a chance to hit him, I'll hit him, just like everybody else.

   "It's not personal. It's all fun and games. He can talk all he wants to, it doesn't matter to me."

   Urlacher said he'll take care of himself, but that teammates like fellow linebacker Rosevelt Colvin or center Olin Kreutz will probably have something to say come Sunday.

   If anything, it might have been a blessing for the Bears. After clinching a playoff spot with a win over Tampa Bay last week, the Bears needed something like this to motivate them even more. Washington (6-7) is in a must-win situation if it plans to get into the playoffs.

   The Skins have owned the Bears as of late. Washington has won the previous six meetings, and eight of the last nine since 1986. The two teams have met seven times in the postseason, including four NFL Championship contests.

   Chicago (10-3) lost 48-22 at Washington in its last meeting, and gave up 143 yards on just 12 carries to running back Stephen Davis, who will play in the game despite hurting his knee in last week's loss to Philadelphia.

   Davis is the NFC's leading rusher with 1,116 yards, and ranks third in the NFL.

   "They can't throw the ball very well," said Urlacher, taking a jab at Banks. "Stephen Davis is the guy that gets everything going for them.

   "They have a hard time going down the field because they're not very accurate down the field. So if they don't get the running game going, they're going to be in trouble."


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