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Will Urlacher be ready for Bears' opening day?

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Will Urlacher be ready for Bears' opening day?

From Comcast SportsNet
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) -- Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and still hopes to be ready for the season opener. The Bears said that Urlacher had an arthroscopic procedure on Tuesday morning to help relieve swelling in the knee and was back at training camp by 10 a.m. He missed the offseason training program after spraining the medial collateral ligament and partially spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in the final game last season against Minnesota. "The treatment that we were giving Brian, he didn't respond as well as we wanted it to," coach Lovie Smith said after Tuesday's practice. "So we had it scoped this morning, a minor scope on his knee. Everything came out the way that we wanted it to." Urlacher was ready for the start of camp, but has not practiced since July 31 and was away from the team recently for what were described as personal reasons. Even so, he said Sunday that he expects to be ready for the opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 9. Urlacher told WFLD Fox-32 in Chicago on Monday that he didn't know if he could have the surgery and return in two weeks. "I am just going to keep resting right now," he said. "I have never had a scope. I don't know how that stuff works. This is the first time I have ever done anything to my knee so I am kind of new to this. I don't know. Honestly, I don't know how that works." Urlacher acknowledged that the knee could be an issue all season, adding, "I don't see it getting any better during the season. We have to manage it, my reps in practice, and then get through Sunday." The Bears had all offseason to address the injury in a different way, but Smith said there was no indication he needed surgery until recently when Urlacher began have problems. "We followed protocol in what we thought we should do at the time," he said. "And now that we're here going back to last season doesn't help an awful lot. "Right now Brian got the knee scoped. He's feeling really good about that. Again that's about all you can do right now to put the knee in the best possible position to be ready for the first game." This is an important season for Urlacher, a 13-year veteran and mainstay for the Chicago defense. He has an expiring contract and is prepared to enter free agency, although he would like to remain with the Bears. Without Urlacher, Nick Roach has moved over from strong side linebacker to the middle and Geno Hayes is playing strong side. Roach had to play the position in 2009 for three games after Urlacher suffered a season-ending dislocated wrist in the opener. Defensive players called the latest surgery a minor setback. "It's a very long season," linebacker Lance Briggs said. "We have 16 games of getting to the playoffs in order to get ourselves into a position to play in the Super Bowl, to win the thing. That's what we have to keep in perspective." He noted that Urlacher was back at camp: "He's a competitor and in his heart, he wants to be out on the field playing football with the rest of us, and it really tears at him that he can't do that right now."

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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

The play of Kelly Oubre, Jr. over the past calendar year had made the Wizards picking up his contract option an increasingly easy decision. On Saturday, they opted to keep him for the fourth year of his rookie contract, the 2018-19 season, and did so with a week to spare before the deadline.

Oubre, 21, has emerged as a key contributor for a Wizards team with expectations of a deep playoff run. He is still finding his trule role in the NBA, but with his youth and potential, and the fact he's still on a rookie deal, Oubre has a unique place on their roster.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have already emerged as stars. Otto Porter still has room to get much better, but has already arrived and earned a max contract. Oubre, though already established in their rotation, has plenty of room to grow.

Oubre, the 15th overall pick in 2015, doubled his minutes last season to 20.3 per game under head coach Scott Brooks with averages of 6.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game. He earned Brooks' trust mainly on the defensive end with his versatility and high motor.

Consistency is where Oubre needs to improve, but through two games this season he appears to have taken another step. Oubre added two inches to his vertical leap over the summer despite rehabbing from platelet-rich plasma treatment on his right knee. He also gained some muscle, allowing him to make strides as a rebounder. Oubre has 15 rebounds through two games and said it's specific focus of his.

[RELATED: WALL TALKS LONZO AND LAVAR BALL]

The Wizards are a good enough offensive team currently to where Oubre can focus on defense and rebounding. But his growing confidence on offense has been evident so far this year and especially in the preseason. He has worked on dribbling with his right hand and the result is more aggression attacking the rim. Though still not a polished product, Oubre is taking small steps to emerge as a more dangerous scoring threat.

The Wizards will have another decision to make on Oubre this time next year. One day before the 2018-19 regular season begins, they will have to choose whether to hand Oubre a rookie scale contract extension. They weren't able to beat that deadline with Porter and the next summer he received a $106.5 million max deal after hitting the market as a restricted free agent. 

Oubre at this very moment wouldn't command that type of money in free agency, but the same was said about Porter at this point in his career. Porter was able to improve significantly in his fourth season.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said this summer that he would love to have Oubre force the issue with his performance on the court.

"He's going to come back and work really, really hard and challenge us to pay him a lot of money, too, which I'm glad to do," Leonsis said. 

It's early in the season, but Oubre may be on his way towards making the Wizards ponder his long-term future.

The Washington Post first reported Oubre's contract option getting picked up.

[RELATED: WALL EXPLAINS WOLF SEASON]

 

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley made a point to embarrass Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball in the latter's NBA debut. After dominating him on the court, Beverley said he had to "set the tone." 

On Wednesday, Wizards point guard John Wall will get a crack at Ball when Washington plays the Lakers at the Staples Center. Wall knows why Beverley went after Ball like that, but says he doesn't blame Ball himself.

"I think his dad put him in a situation where guys are going to target him," Wall said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast, referencing LaVar Ball. "Lonzo is one of those kids that is very talented. He's been a good player for years, he just don't say much. I think his dad does all the talking for him."

Ball, 19, was the second overall pick in this June's NBA Draft. He had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting against the Clippers on Wednesday, but bounced back for 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against the Suns on Friday. 

Wall thinks Ball will be fine as long as he can keep up his production on the court to back up his dad's trash-talking.

"He's a great kid from what I've seen on the outside looking in," Wall said. "A lot of people in this league are going to take it personally. It's not the son's fault. He went back and had a better game [vs. the Suns]. That's all he's gotta do is go out there and play. He's not gonna do any talking anyways. If he gets killed or don't get killed or kills somebody, he's not going to be the guy talking."

Wall is as competitive as they come and will give Ball a tough challenge on Wednesday night, but it doesn't sound like he plans to pull a Beverley and overtly embarrass him.

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

[RELATED: WALL SAYS HE'S THE BEST SHOT-BLOCKING PG EVER]