UPDATE: Sunday, September 9, 12 p.m. ET by Justin Welton
According to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times, Bears' linebacker Brian Urlacher will start in Week 1.
Real life Bears injury report: LB Brian Urlacher (left knee) will start; S Chris Conte (shoulder) doubtful; P Adam Podlesh (hip flexor) out.— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) September 6, 2012
Urlacher will "still be able to play football" despite his injury, according to Potash.
Brian Urlacher tells WBBM's Jeff Joniak that though his knee will never be the same, "I'll still be able to play football."— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) September 9, 2012
The Bears host rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener. Having his veteran presence in the middle of that defense will spark the Bears on Sunday.
---------End of Update---------
He told Vaughn McClure and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:
"Brian is making a lot of progress. Just like we've said all along, I expect to see No. 54 out on the practice field next week and playing against the Colts."
Still, there are some doubts about the eight-time Pro Bowler's season-long availability.
UPDATE: Monday, September 3, 7:45 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune about when he intends on returning to practice:
My expectations are to be out there with my teammates practicing (Monday). I might not have as many reps because I'm not quite where I want to be with wind and being in shape. But I expect it to be a normal practice, with a few less reps.
While there are still many questions that must be answered about Urlacher’s sprained MCL and PCL in his right knee and how it has healed, a return to the practice field will prove that the veteran is ready for action.
The Bears need his stellar play and leadership on the field if they want to win, and it would take more than a sore knee to keep the NFL star out for opening day.
----------End of Update------------
Urlacher's 2011 season ended in the final week when he sprained the MCL and PCL in his right knee.
I don't think there is any doubt as to whether Urlacher will play in the opener. I think fans are more wary of how effective he can be playing at what seems like less than 100 percent.
Distressing news came out about Urlacher undergoing multiple knee surgeries this calendar year, per John Mullin of CSN Chicago, and even looking into experimental procedures in Germany.
Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Tribune reported:
Two league sources said Urlacher wasn't just biding his time and hoping the injury would heal itself during the offseason. He was chasing down a cure in Europe.
One source said Urlacher left sometime in May or early June to meet with a physician described as "that famous doctor everybody goes to," while the other source said the player opted for "non-invasive treatment" that he paid for himself.
How many games do you think Urlacher will play this season?
All this adds up to a 34-year-old veteran whose body is breaking down on him. He's always been an amazing athlete, but will this and the wear and tear of other injuries make him a shell of himself?
Last season, he had a descent year with 102 tackles, but it was a far cry from his best years. If he's healthy, there is no doubt in my mind he can still be a solid presence in the middle of the defense, but that is the major question.
Stay tuned, and bookmark this article for updates on Urlacher's knee as they become available.
Follow Brian Mazique and Franchiseplay on YouTube and Twitter for reactions, analysis and news from the world of sports and sports video games