Urlacher embraces underdog role -- again

Brian Urlacher said you can't judge a team by the preseason because of motivation. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Brian Urlacher knows a thing or two about NFL predictions after 12 years in the league.

They're usually wrong.

Many people predicted former head coach Dick Jauron's tenure was going to end in 2001. Instead, the Bears went 13-3 in Urlacher's second season and won the division. Expectations were high the following year, and the Bears flopped and finished 4-12. Very few anticipated a division title for Lovie Smith in his second year in 2005, and almost everybody (the Bears included) thought a return trip to the Super Bowl in 2007 was a foregone conclusion. Last year's NFC North crown and trip to the NFC Championship Game also caught the football world off guard after the Bears suffered through a winless preseason.

So, should it really matter to Urlacher if experts across the country believe the Bears won't repeat as division champions?

"We sit up here every year at this time and say the same thing,' Urlacher said Thursday. "We're the underdogs again, it's the way it is every year. We seem to do decent in that role. So we'll just do our best and go out there and try to give a couple teams some games this year. We'll do the best we can."

Preseason results often shape the perception of a team, good or bad. The Bears finished the preseason 2-2 this year, with losses against the Giants and Titans. But should that even matter? The answer is simple, according to Urlacher.

"It's hard to get motivated for those preseason games," Urlacher explained. "You're not game planning, you're doing Cover 1 and Cover 2, that's it, that's all we do the whole time. We don't game plan. You just don't want to get hurt. That's the No. 1 thing in the back of everybody's mind. Don't get hurt."

Health is the real key for the Bears defense. Although the Green Bay Packers were able to withstand an incredible amount of injuries in 2010 en route to a Super Bowl title, the Bears probably don't have the depth at certain core positions to pull off a similar feat. However, if veterans like Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Julius Peppers can stay on the field, the unit could be in line for another solid season.

"Our window may be closing a little bit, we are getting a little older, but we're still playing at a pretty high level I think for as old as we are," Urlacher said. "We still do decent, I guess."