Agree to Disagree

Lake Forest - Coach Lovie Smith left no doubt that he disagreed with this week's story in The Sporting News that labels middle linebacker Brian Urlacher as the most overrated player in the NFL.

"You've seen Brian Urlacher play," Smith said. "I've heard about the article that's coming out. I really shouldn't respond on it an awful lot. It's like anything else that isn't true that you respond to. If you asked the players in the league -- he's been to the Pro Bowls for a reason. He's a good football player. He's potentially a great football player, one of the all-time greats, I think.

"You're asking the wrong person. I see him every day. I know what a good linebacker looks like. He's a good linebacker. He'll be one of the all-time greats before it's all said and done. I'm not even going to try to defend (him). A guy like Brian Urlacher doesn't have to defend himself on whether he is a good player or not. So whoever wrote that article doesn't know what they're talking about."

Urlacher limped off the field late in the fourth quarter with an injured left hamstring that could be fatal to any hope the Bears have of making a playoff run. The four-time Pro Bowl pick could miss the remainder of the season.

Before Sunday's loss, the Bears were 0-4 when Urlacher missed the third and fourth games with a strained right hamstring and the 10th and 11th games following calf surgery. They were 5-3 with him in the lineup.

"As far as how bad, I don't really know," Smith said of the injury. "(With a) hamstring, that kind of tells you all you need to know, and we'll go from there."

News & Notes
--Lovie Smith defended the disastrous play early in the fourth quarter that resulted in a safety when quarterback Chad Hutchinson was sacked in the end zone by linebacker Daryl Smith, giving the Jaguars a 15-3 lead.

"The thought process was, 'We needed a big play,'" Smith said. "We felt like they would be in man coverage and we would have a chance to hit a big one. On the other side, when you're a defensive team, you want to pressure, but you know you can't give up that big play. The protection broke down, and they were able to get that safety."

Hutchinson didn't have much of an explanation for the play.

"We just didn't capitalize," Hutchinson said.

The Bears allowed five more sacks Sunday, bringing their season total to an NFL-worst 53, just two short of the most in franchise history.

--RB Anthony Thomas didn't get a single carry in Week 14 after sharing 30 attempts with starter Thomas Jones a week earlier. Thomas did have three receptions for 18 yards. A free agent after this season, Thomas already has plans to list his house with a real estate agent next week.

--OT John Tait has been frustrated by the slow progress he's made in recovering from a sprained right knee, and he is not expected to play Sunday for the third straight game. The injury ended a streak of 61 consecutive starts for Tait.

--CB Todd McMillon, the Bears' second-leading special-teams tackler, left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury and is probably out for this weekend's game.


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