Urlacher Downplays Dream Matchup

Lake Forest - The two best middle linebackers in the game will square off this Sunday, when the Ravens come to Chicago to face the Bears. However, neither Brian Urlacher nor Ray Lewis will be on the field at the same time. That's why Urlacher has little to say about the subject.

Urlacher had to be pressed to elaborate on himself or the manufactured rivalry between Lewis and himself.

"I'm not too worried about it," said Urlacher, who leads all NFL linebackers with six sacks. "Next question. I'm not going to make this between me and him all week long. It's a team game. I know we both play the same position, but I'm not going to make it between me and him."

Urlacher was asked if he respected Lewis' game.

"Yeah, he plays hard," Urlacher said.

The Bears' middle linebacker, a Pro Bowl pick in four of his five seasons, has a team-best 52 tackles. The Ravens' middle linebacker, a seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time defensive player of the year, has a team-best 64 tackles with one sack and one interception. Urlacher gets the angle, but he sees it as just one part of the story.

"There's 11 guys on defense and 11 guys on offense, and it's not going to be decided between him and I," Urlacher said. "There are going to be 10 other guys on defense out there, and they make a lot of plays themselves on our team."

Lewis proclaimed himself the best middle linebacker in the NFL, to which Urlacher replied: "Whatever he thinks. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion."

When it comes down to what player would be the first taken in a pickup game each side admits they're a little bias.

"Oh gosh, that's like asking me if my daughters are beautiful," said Ravens head coach Brian Billick. "How else do I answer that? Yeah. There is no other linebacker I would rather have, with all due respect, and I love Brian Urlacher. What a stud. What an athletic, physical presence in the middle. But we've done some damage here with Ray Lewis."

Lovie Smith is in his second year of coaching Urlacher and sees the type of improvement he's made from one season to the next.

"Brian Urlacher is having a great year, six (sacks), just how he has taken over the role of team leader," Smith said. "Second year in the system, I can't tell you how much he knows. He knows quite a bit about our defense and getting everyone lined up. They have a good linebacker and we wouldn't trade ours for anyone."

It's rare when two defensive players are given the limelight, but that's also a reflection of how bad the offenses have been. The Ravens have the 22nd ranked offense, while the Bears clock in at 28th.

"I think this game this week right here is going to be like a hallmark for linebackers," said Lance Briggs. "So if you're a defensive player this is a game that you should watch."


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