Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher injured his hamstring chasing after Russell Wilson late in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He immediately left the game and did not return.
Coach Lovie Smith, normally very tight-lipped about player injuries, let slip yesterday that Urlacher is dealing with a pulled hamstring – although he quickly tried to cover it up.
Hamstrings are tough injuries to heal. Even the slightest of pulls can keep a player out two weeks. That being the case, it’s very likely Urlacher will be out this week, and possibly longer.
(UPDATE: It is being reported that Urlacher's injury is a Grade 2 hamstring strain that is expected to sideline him at least the next three weeks, if not the remainder of the regular season.)
While he is on the shelf, Chicago will slide Nick Roach inside to middle linebacker and place Geno Hayes on the strong side. Lance Briggs will stay on the weak side.
Roach has started three games at middle linebacker during his six-year career.
Hayes was signed to a one-year deal this offseason, after four years in Tampa Bay. He rotated at both the strong and weak side during the preseason. Throughout his career, he has been much better in coverage than he has against the run.
Beyond Hayes, the Bears are thin at linebacker. Blake Costanzo, J.T. Thomas and recently elevated Patrick Trahan are nothing more than special teams contributors.
To that end, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune first reported today the team is on the verge of signing Dom DeCicco, who played in every game for the Bears last season, finishing the year second in special teams tackles (17). DeCicco was on Chicago’s roster during training camp, yet a pulled groin midway through put him on the shelf and the Bears waived him shortly before the season began.
DeCicco played exclusively at middle linebacker during training camp and was developing at the position – he played safety in college at Pittsburgh. He knows Chicago’s system and has proven to be a quality player on special teams.
The defense could also be without cornerback Tim Jennings, who injured his shoulder on Sunday. In the locker room after the game, he needed help getting dressed, which is never a good sign. If Jennings sits, Kelvin Hayden will likely move into the starting role.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.