Bears star should be ready for season opener
August 3, 2004
After suffering a moderate strain in his right hamstring, Chicago Bears Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher will miss the rest of training camp, but he should be ready for the regular season opener on Sept. 12.
Urlacher just finished a month-long stint of high-altitude training in Truckee and was in “phenomenal physical shape” going into his fifth NFL season, said Chip Smith, Urlacher’s personal trainer.
Urlacher had been on the practice field for less than an hour on July 28 when he crumpled to the ground after stumbling out of a scrimmage drill. Bears head coach Lovie Smith called the incident a “freak thing” in an ESPN.com article. Smith echoed the Bears coach’s words in a phone interview on Aug. 2.
“I talked to (Brian) the day it happened,” said Smith, founder and president of Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta. “I was devastated and Brian was devastated. It was an absolute freak accident.”
Smith, who stayed with Urlacher in Tahoe City and trained the four-time Pro Bowler in Truckee from June 19 to July 22, dismissed any connection between the high-altitude training and Urlacher’s injury.
“I stretched him for 15 to 20 minutes a day,” Smith said. “If his hamstrings would have been weak, I would have noticed that. That was never the case. I was scared to death it was something we had done (in Truckee). I’ve trained Brian for five years. I love him like a son, and I would never do anything at all (to jeopardize his health).”
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At the time of Urlacher’s injury, the Bears were practicing in shorts and helmets and the scrimmage was light contact only. Urlacher said in a phone conversation with Smith that an offensive lineman tried to block him and fell at his feet. When Urlacher tried to turn and run, he felt a sharp pain.
“It thought it was a cramp, it felt like someone shot me,” Urlacher told ESPN.com. “I fell on the ground and started to stretch different ways and it just wouldn’t go away. I’d never pulled a muscle before so I wasn’t sure what to think.”
Urlacher told Smith he felt like he had wasted a month of disciplined training in Truckee, but Smith put a positive spin on the injury.
“I said, ‘If you weren’t in such good shape, you might have torn it worse,'” he said. “Because of that, he’ll recover a lot quicker than someone who wasn’t in peak physical shape.”
Unfortunately, Urlacher, the team’s best defensive player, won’t be able to take the team into the regular season with a working knowledge of the Bears new “Cover Two” defensive scheme. The Bears, like most NFL defenses, ask the middle linebacker to make the adjustment calls. Urlacher has never missed a game in his four-year NFL career, a span of 64 games.
During his training session in Truckee, Urlacher donated over $50,000 of Hammer Strength workout equipment to Tahoe Truckee High School.
Smith said Urlacher has been riding a stationary bike to keep in shape, but there’s one thing that would ease the Bears star’s anxious mind.
“The only thing (Urlacher) needs for a quicker recovery is one of those Ames (Deli Mart) hamburgers,” said Smith jokingly, in reference to the Tahoe Donner deli where he and Urlacher ate frequently when they were in Truckee.
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com was used in this article.