Good Time for Tucker's Return

Lake Forest - Rex Tucker has missed the Bears 31 games because of three different injuries. However, he could be days away from getting his first start in a regular season game in more than two years.

After spending a considerable time with his arm in a sling, Tucker has been working in individual drills over the past few weeks.

Tucker returned to practice on Monday for the first time since he dislocated his right elbow on Aug.16th. The original estimation of the injury was 8-10 weeks and if he plays against the Washington Redskins he will have missed exactly two months.

"Obviously I'm really rusty. I just want to get as healthy as I can and get in a position to where I can help the team as best I can," Tucker said.

Tucker's return comes at a good time for the Bears. Ruben Brown, who started the first four games at left guard, had his left knee scoped on Friday and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

Considering his history with injuries, Tucker admitted he thought his career might be over.

"If I said that wasn't the case, I'd be lying to you. If you ask me, it was a pretty severe injury. But that's not the case right now. I'm out here practicing and I couldn't be happier."

Last year a torn tendon in his right ankle during the final preseason game completely wiped out Tucker's regular season. The previous year, the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder missed the final 11 regular-season games after suffering a dislocated left ankle and fractured left fibula.

Steve Edwards, who started 16 games at left guard last year, is also an option to replace Brown if Tucker isn't ready to play this weekend.

"Steve's a good player and we've won with him," Lovie Smith said. "Yes, he's more into the flow of things right now. We're not saying we're going to throw Rex out there, take 60 snaps and go really right away. It's just good to have him a part of that mix."

There is a chance that both Tucker and Edwards could split time.

"One guy has to start, but we'll play more than two," Smith said. "We're going to do that at a lot of positions really."

Brian Urlacher went through the entire practice on Monday. Olin Kreutz had a scope on his right elbow less than a week ago, but did partake in individual drills.

"We're a lot better football team right now. It's as healthy as we've been in a long time," Smith said.

Smith is even holding out hope that Brown could return as soon as this weekend, which would just be nine days after the procedure to remove loose cartilage in his knee.

"I definitely think that's a realistic possibility," Smith said. "Ruben wants to play in the worst way and I don't know if there'll even be pain by then. But, yes, players have played in that period of time."

The fact that Brown would be going up against his former head coach is part of the reason for the quick turnaround. Gregg Williams, who spent three seasons as Brown's head coach in Buffalo, benched the ten-year veteran in last year's season finale and is now the defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs.


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