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Urlacher remains out with sore knee

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 5, 2012 – 7:52 pm

Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher missed his fourth straight practice Sunday with a sore knee.

After injuring his knee in last year’s season finale in Minnesota, Urlacher sat out the entire offseason program. He participated in the first five training camp practices, but has been sidelined since last Tuesday.

“His knee is still a little sore,” coach Lovie Smith said Sunday. “He has some soreness with it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him back out here before long. But we’ll take our time with Brian.”

While Smith wants to get Urlacher back on the field, the coach isn’t too worried at this point.

“There is always concern when you have an injury at the end of the year and you miss some time in the offseason, but he should be OK,” Smith said. “It’s not like he really hurt it anymore. I assumed he would have some soreness and he would miss a few of these training camp practices.”

Urlacher wasn’t the only Bears player on the sidelines Sunday. Defensive end Julius Peppers, running back Matt Forte, and receivers Earl Bennett and Eric Weems all were among those who missed some or all of Sunday’s practice due to minor ailments.

Urlacher remains out with sore knee

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Bears defense ‘a great fit’ for Hayes

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 5, 2012 – 7:16 pm

When Geno Hayes signed a one-year contract with the Bears in April, the veteran linebacker knew that he’d be assigned a different jersey number than the one he wore with the Buccaneers.

But even though Hayes is no longer wearing No. 54—that number apparently was already taken by one of his new teammates—he feels comfortable in a Bears defense that’s similar to the system he was part of in Tampa.

“It’s a great fit,” Hayes said. “They’ve still got that old-school Tampa 2 kind of scheme and I love it.”

Hayes was selected by the Buccaneers in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of Florida State. He appeared in 56 games with 42 starts in four seasons with Tampa Bay, recording 334 tackles, 36 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, four interceptions, 16 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

After playing in nine games primarily on special teams as a rookie, Hayes became the Buccaneers’ starting weakside linebacker in 2009, replacing 11-time Pro Bowler Derrick Brooks. Last season Hayes started 13 of 16 games played, registering 86 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss, one interception and two forced fumbles.

A valuable backup, Hayes can play either outside linebacker position. With middle linebacker Brian Urlacher sidelined the past few days with knee soreness, Hayes has worked with the No. 1 defense at the strongside position in place of Nick Roach, who has slid inside to replace Urlacher.

“I’m here to help the team in any way, shape or form,” Hayes said. “If they want me to come in and play special teams, I’ll play special teams. If anybody goes down, I’d be the guy to step up and help out. I’m here to help the team any way.”

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