Bears Defense Suffers Big Blow

Lake Forest - The Bears have ridden their defense to a three game winning streak, but the team will not only have to overcome an inept offense for at least the next month. Brian Urlacher had to having surgery after suffering internal bleeding in his left calf because of a hit he took Sunday.

" Urlacher's a great player. He's a big part of what we're doing around here. But we've had injuries before. We've had some tough injuries. "What I wanted to know was it season ending, and it isn't, so my next thought was, OK, we're going to have to survive for a while without Brian," Lovie Smith said.

It's unclear exactly when Urlacher suffered the injury. All that the Bears were willing to say is that a member of the Titans offense hit Brian Urlacher with his cleat. He was able to finish the game without pain and then his leg didn't swelled up after the game.

Although the there are no plans to put Urlacher on Injured Reserve, he's expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which would leave a best case scenario of him returning for the final three games of the season.

"We feel we have a lot of football left to go, a lot more than four games," Smith said of hoping Urlacher can return in time for a playoff run.

While losing Urlacher is a definite blow for a defense that has played as well as any other over the past two weeks, this isn't the first time the team has had to put together a defensive game plan without the four-time Pro Bowler.

Urlacher missed the entire preseason and regular two games because of a right hamstring pull, which he originally suffered during the first practice in training camp.

The Bears have been without the services of Mike Brown and Charles Tillman since the second game of the season, but the defense has been able to overcome the loss of their two top members of the secondary.

The Bears hope the difference in this year and that of the previous is that the entire defense is capable of making big plays instead of just relying on Urlacher.

"Our defense is not based around one person," Tillman said.

Hunter Hillenmeyer developed into a starting caliber linebacker in Urlacher's absence. The former waived free agent filled for Urlacher at middle linebacker and played well enough to earn a starting job on the strong-side. Hillenmeyer will now move back to the middle with Joe Odom returning to the starting lineup.

Over the past two games the defense has forced eight turnovers to go with ten sacks. The unit is going to have to continue that output to make up for an offense that has more three and out than any other in the league.

"Some of those plays, they just didn't happen, the players made them happen. They went out and did the things that we preach; they did the things that we work on. I think if that's their attitude and if that's what they believe in, we can do that. We can accomplish a lot. I believe in the football players here because of what they've done."

The timing of Urlacher's injury couldn't have come at a worse time. The Bears are within a game of the division leaders and the NFL's highest scoring offense is coming to town.

The front four has been able to put pressure on the quarterback and aside from two plays against Tennessee the secondary has played sound football, but there is a natural let down to losing a player of Urlacher's quality.

"It doesn't matter who the MIKE linebacker is, it would be great to have him there, believe me. We'd love to have him there every snap," said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. "Within what we're doing, if everybody does their job, even the backups do their jobs, we've got a great chance to win some football games."


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