This morning, news of Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher leaving the team to deal with a family emergency was made public. It turns out that Urlacher's mother, Lavoyda, has passed way.
Urlacher made the following statement:
"My mother, Lavoyda, unexpectedly passed away Monday at her home in Texas. My first priority right now is to be with my family as we mourn her loss and make the arrangements to lay her to rest. This is a very difficult and emotional time for us and I sincerely ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you."
It is unclear at this point as to when the Pro Bowl linebacker will return with the team. His teammates took to Twitter to express their condolences.
Jay Cutler tweeted: "Our thoughts and prayers going out to Brian and his family."
In his weekly press conference, Cutler said, "You can't replace Brian Urlacher. You just can't find anyone like him in this league. He's the heart and soul of the team. We wish him well."
If Urlacher is unable to play this week, expect Brian Iwuh to be promoted to the starter's role. He'll most likely play outside linebacker, with Nick Roach sliding inside.
The Bears are already thin at linebacker, with just five on the current roster. An injury to any of the starters could force undrafted rookie Dom DeCicco into extended playing time. DeCicco is athletic but raw, and not the ideal answer at middle linebacker at this point in his career.
The Bears did work out LB Kion Wilson, a 2010 undrafted rookie who was cut by the San Diego Chargers this offseason, but did not sign him. Expect the front office to continue to its search to solidify the linebacker corps.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.