It's officially game week. The Bears hit the practice field Monday with an actual game to prepare for. Earl Bennett said they are so ready to play a game that counts and show off the new weapons on offense. He did say there is a different feeling around this team than in heading into his previous four years so in six days they can go out and prove it on the field.
Holiday or not, the media was all present and accounted for. Eager for our small window into practice - looking for number 54. And there he was. Right back where we left him...shorts, shells and a brace on his left knee. We saw him run through a few non-contact drills and it looked just like training camp. Take that for what it is worth. Brian Urlacher knows three or four practices can't get him close to game shape for Sunday. But an 80 percent Urlacher will look like a 100 percent all-pro linebacker to a rookie quarterback. And he'll probably hit like one which is a little scary. I mean, re-aggravating the knee is a possibility. He says it feels great, but no one is hiding from the facts that swelling and pain could all return. And he admits after the procedures we know he had done, and perhaps ones unconfirmed- his knee "is never going to be the same." What that means on game day is still a mystery until about 4 p.m. on Sunday. So stand by.
DJ Moore with the quote of the day (isn't he always the quote of the day?) "to have him on the field, teams just look at you differently...that's not a knock on Nick [Roach] but when Nick is out there, teams might have a little more confidence. But to have him [Urlacher] out there...6'4" 'White Chocolate'...it's going to be exciting to have him out there."
The Bears opened the day by announcing the return of Amobi Okoye. He signed a 1-year contract to come back to the Bears. He's thrilled "to come back to a team I love in a city I love." It's a great opportunity. He told Marinelli, "lets go get this ring." He spent time with NBA Champion LeBron James after the Heat won the title and Okoye said it's just a marvelous feeling to win a championship. He wants to feel that with the Bears. You can tell how excited he is. Lovie said he's one of our guys and everyone is glad he's back. Okoye had a knee scope in June, but had a good day of practice Monday.
WORTH NOTING: Urlacher was not the only one who returned to practice Monday - DT Stephen Paea and SS Chris Conte were both on the field Monday. Lovie Smith said they are about where the team feels they should be. But we'll all know more when the first injury report comes out on Wednesday.
No official word on the LT starter for Sunday but J-Webb nation ran drills with the first team. If I'm putting money on it - he starts there...at least for Week 1. (But I don't know if I'd trust my betting suggestions...did you watch "Final Word" on Sunday?)