Chicago Bears Linebackers: Need To Adjust Without Urlacher

Geoffrey ClarkCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 15:  Tight end Jonathan Stupar #88 of the Buffalo Bills is tackled by Hunter Hillenmeyer #92 and Jamar Williams #52 of the Chicago Bears during the preseason game on August 15, 2009 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills won 27-20. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Fans braced for the worst when word broke out after the Bears' Week One loss to Green Bay that Brian Urlacher would have to have surgery on his wrist the following day.

Their fears were realized when following the procedure, it was announced that Urlacher's season was finished after only one game.  Not exactly what they wanted to hear since many were also still fuming at Jay Cutler's sub-par debut.

Those fans who quickly let their emotions get the best of them were already declaring the season over after one game.  Perhaps they forgot that football is a team sport that doesn't revolve around one superstar athlete. They must have also forgotten that there were a lot of games left. 

Now that they have cooler heads, it's time for them to look at who can fill the gap created by Urlacher's absence.

To help fill that void, the Bears signed linebacker Tim Shaw, who had just been cut by Jacksonville

An immediate move was needed because Pisa Tinoisamoa had also suffered an injury in the Green Bay game and it wasn't known at the time if he'd be ready for the next game against Pittsburgh.  However, Shaw is far from the cure that ails the linebacker corps.

Hunter Hillenmeyer was named to replace Urlacher up the middle for the time being after years of starting on the strong side.  When Urlacher went down with an injury in 2004, Hillenmeyer started all seven games in his place.  Five years later, he returns to the position as a more seasoned player. 

He hasn't been selected to multiple Pro Bowls like the man he's filling in for or fellow corps member Lance Briggs, but if he does just enough, it may not matter whether or not No. 54 is in the game.

Despite the presence of Shaw and Hillenmeyer, that doesn't mean the Bears still aren't looking at other linebackers who are without a team.  The most notable example is their drawing interest in Derrick Brooks, a 14-year veteran and 11-time Pro Bowl selection who knows Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo from when all three were with Tampa Bay

Brooks has just signed on to become an analyst for ESPN, but the Bears are one of several teams trying to pry him away from his new job in Bristol.

Although he's been an outside linebacker during his career, Brooks has said he would have no problem moving to the middle.  He's 36 years old and past his prime, so any team that picks him up would be taking somewhat of a risk.  As of this writing, Brooks has not signed anywhere yet.

Should any more starting linebackers be shelved at any other time this season, the Bears have other backups willing to step up. 

Nick Roach started nine games for the Bears last season, so there's experience with him.  Jamar Williams has played most of his career on special teams and made only start on defense, but he needs to be ready in case he is called to be amongst the middle unit again.

Again, even though one of the recognizable names in football has been forced to call it a season, by no means are the Bears a dead team walking.  Of course, players have to step up when asked if the team is going to meet the high expectations of this season. 

That definitely includes the linebacker corps, which will be depended on largely for success.  It's the time for those unknown outside of Chicago, and now, they must seize it.


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