Urlacher, Kreutz sit out padded workout

Brian Urlacher was held out of the Bears' night practice on Saturday in Bourbonnais, Ill. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The group of non-participants at Chicago Bears training camp grew by two between the morning practice Saturday and the night session, when the club strapped on full pads for the first time.

The Bears held out starting middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and starting center Olin Kreutz for the padded workout -- which didn’t feature much contact -- for what appeared to be precautionary reasons. Coach Lovie Smith didn’t go into details about why the team held out Urlacher, who is coming off last year’s season-ending wrist injury, and Kreutz, who underwent offseason surgery on his Achilles.

Minutes after meeting with the media at the end of practice, Smith said, “I wouldn’t look too deeply into [the reasoning behind his decision to hold out Urlacher and Kreutz].”

“They should be good to go [Sunday].”

Urlacher and Kreutz participated in Saturday’s morning walkthrough.

Other noteworthy absences included safety Chris Harris and cornerback Tim Jennings, who missed both workouts. Harris left the field during the morning walkthrough after straining a back muscle, while Jennings (right knee) rode a stationary bike near the practice field.

Smith didn’t consider their injuries to be serious, indicating the club would re-evaluate them before making a decision on their participation for Sunday’s workouts.

“We’ll see what happens [Sunday],” Smith said.

Craig Steltz took over at free safety in Harris’ absence, while Major Wright, the Bears' top draft pick, and Josh Bullocks also received more repetitions during 7-on-7 and team drills.

Wright displayed some willingness to strike opponents during individual tackling drills at the start of practice, which Smith noticed, having spent most of the early part of practice with the defensive backs.

“He’s a typical rookie,” Smith said. “He’s doing some good things. He got a long way to go, but I wouldn’t say he’s behind or anything like that. We think he’ll be a good football player in time. When you have an injury like we did with Chris, it gives him an opportunity to get more reps.”

Rookie cornerback Josh Moore received extra reps as well because of Jennings’ knee injury.

While the night practice featured a larger crowd -- which likely anticipated more contact due to the club wearing full pads for the first time -- the session itself was somewhat uneventful. After an opening day featuring multiple passes to the tight ends, the Bears used their first full-pads workout to hone the running game with Matt Forte, Chester Taylor, Garrett Wolfe and Kahlil Bell handling the bulk of the repetitions.

It’s believed that Forte -- expected to split carries with Taylor -- will receive the first shot at the starting running back job. But Forte seemed unsure of how the situation will unfold.

“The way it’s set up, I guess we’ll have to wait to see after camp and all that stuff,” he said. “It’s up to the offensive coordinator, really.”

As for Smith, the coach backed off the ultra-optimistic outlook he exhibited at the start of camp, saying flatly the club has “a long way to go.”

“You kind of set the bar a little bit on the first night you go out in pads,” Smith said. “The guys were willing. Thank God we don’t have to play tomorrow or anything like that. It’s another step for us. We have room for improvement in everything. It’s the first day in pads. You can’t get too high or too low. It’s a step you go through. We needed to get to this point [where we’re] working in pads from here on out. Each day, the guys will tell us something that we need to know practicing this way. [When] you get the pads on, you at least see where you are. We’ll evaluate the video and go from there.”