Urlacher Still on the Upswing?

After just six seasons in the NFL, Brian Urlacher has accomplished nearly everything as a player. However, the five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker believes he can still improve and that growth could help him and the franchise accomplish the ultimate goal.

"Super Bowl. I don't see why there's any reason we can't make it to the Super Bowl and win it," Urlacher said. "That's our goal right now. That's the No. 1 priority."

In order to put the team in the best position for a deep postseason run, Urlacher is focusing on big plays. Of late, creating turnovers has been missing from his game. Even with winning the Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, Urlacher failed to come up with an interception for only the second time in his career.

"Big plays—picks, fumbles, all that good stuff, I'd like to get more of those," Urlacher said. "It doesn't seem like I'm around the ball very much anymore. Lance (Briggs) is always the guy making the plays like that. But hopefully I'll get around the ball more this year and get a chance to make some more plays."

During the final practice of mini-camp, Urlacher came up with a leaping pick of Rex Grossman similar to the interception he made in the playoff loss to Carolina. Coach Lovie Smith is hoping for more of the same from his six-foot-4, 258-pounder during the regular season.

"If you look at the numbers and you ask Brian, he would say that he can get more interceptions," Smith said. "We're pleased with his sack totals but I think he's capable of being at least a five-interception guy each year and possibly 200 tackles."

Those type of numbers coupled with another NFC North title would guarantee another trip to the Pro Bowl for Urlacher and likely earn him a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.

Part of the reason Urlacher has become one of the best defenders in the game is his work ethic and focus on self-growth. When asked about the several new additions on defense, he gave a typical Urlacher answer.

"I really haven't had a chance to pay attention," Urlacher explained. "I've been trying to watch myself and figure out what I'm doing wrong."

Still, Urlacher is thinking about the big picture. He admitted being frustrated by the way the defense played in the postseason, but feels the Bears are on the verge of something special.

"There's no doubt. We're a better team right now than we were last year at this time," Urlacher said. "We've added some guys, but we're pretty much the same team. We got some good solid backups. We're the same team we were, but better with more experience."

The Bears are hoping a year older will also mean a year wiser.


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