Urlacher expects a Super Bowl, not knee problems


Urlacher expects a Super Bowl, not knee problems

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- A baseball cap during OTAs and various times during the offseason was not the head-wear the Bears or Urlacher want to see the franchise middle linebacker in and that wont be happening too often during training camp.

Urlacher was recovering from a knee injury suffered in the season-ending win at Minnesota. Now hes healthy, by his and others statements, and clear about what he expects out of 2012:

I really think we can do it this year, Urlacher said in a predictable but still noteworthy bit of goal-setting. There was no subtle hedging, just a straightforward talent assessment from someone who has seen 12 previous Bears teams at this point of the season.

We always say it because its the right thing to say. But I mean, were stacked at every position. Anytime you add Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush, our defense is healthy again which is a big deal for us and then Jay Cutler being back healthy, it is a big deal.

The big deal indeed is defense is healthy because Urlacher was speaking about himself. His left knee was sprained on Jan. 1 and at 34, bodies dont always heal as well as or as fast as when theyre younger.

But the Bears have no reservations with Urlacher and neither does he.

Hes ready to go, coach Lovie Smith said. Were cautious with players when theyre not fit and full-speed ready to go, but once we get them out there, were never trying to take out any of our players in practice.

You have to know how to practice, first off, to try to avoid injuries. I feel like we can do that, and if injuries happen, they just kind of happen. Brian has missed a lot of time, and just like we talk about with Matt Forte, I know hes anxious to get back out there and were anxious to get him out there.

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Before the Cubs hosted the San Francisco Giants on Day 2 of American Legion Week, Willson Contreras was out in left field running and working out his injured right hamstring.

The All-Star catcher hit the injured list earlier this month after hitting a line drive to the gap against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

That was two-and-a-half weeks ago and the Cubs initially tabbed the Grade-2 hamstring strain as a roughly four-week timeline. But team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday Contreras is not nearing a rehab stint.

"He's in what our trainers are calling the aggressive strengthening phase of his rehab, which is building up the hamstring strength now that he's gotten through the initial injury," Epstein said. "Always what comes with that is the strength deficit that you have to really be mindful of building back up so that you don't risk reinjuring it when you get back to full baseball activities. 

"You're gonna see him on the field a lot more over the next few days and hopefully soon he'll be progressing to baseball activities. He's not on the cusp of starting a rehab assignment or anything like that. He hasn't really progressed to baseball activities yet, so that will be the next step."

The minor-league season wraps up in the first couple days of September, so Contreras won't have much of an opportunity to get game at-bats and innings at catcher if he isn't able to head on a rehab stint soon.

But the Cubs won't rush it with one of their most important players. Contreras was hitting .275 with 19 homers, 57 RBI and an .890 OPS in 87 games before the injury.

In his absence, the Cubs have been pretty well covered with Victor Caratini and Jonathan Lucroy splitting duties behind the dish.

Lucroy - acquired Aug. 8 after being released by the Los Angeles Angels - is hitting .333 with a .798 OPS in 7 games and has impressed with his work as a game-caller and veteran presence. Caratini continues to put up quality at-bats while building on his breakout campaign.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Cubs' triumphant return home

USA Today

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Cubs' triumphant return home

Luke Stuckmeyer and Fred Mitchell join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Doug Glanville joins the guys to discuss the Cubs' triumphant return home, Nicholas Castellanos and the importance of the starting rotation over the rest of the season.

11:00- Scott Podsednik drops by to talk about another dominant performance by Lucas Giolito. Could the Sox contend next season after taking a series from another division leader?

17:30- Tony Andracki joins Kap from Wrigley Field with the latest on Ben Zobrist's return and if Brandon Morrow's shutdown will have any impact on the Cubs' bullpen.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Sports Talk Live Podcast