Hester excused; Urlacher limited in practice

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears excused receiver Devin Hester from Thursday’s practice for undisclosed reasons, while limiting the work of linebacker Brian Urlacher for the second consecutive day.

Bears coach Lovie Smith announced “Hester was excused today,” but didn’t elaborate on why.

Hester attended lunch with the team in the dining hall at Olivet Nazarene University, but was a no-show nearly three hours later on the practice field. Urlacher, meanwhile, took repetitions during the early portion of practice devoted to individual position work before briefly wrapping his knee in ice and sitting out for the remainder of the workout.

“Brian got a few plays, and then we kept him out,” Smith said.

In Hester’s absence, rookie Alshon Jeffery worked as the No. 2 receiver opposite Brandon Marshall, and on special teams rookie Greg McCoy and veteran Tim Jennings fielded punts.

Urlacher sprained his medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments of his left knee in a collision with safety Major Wright as the two attempted to break up a pass during the 2011 season finale at Minnesota. Urlacher’s injury didn’t require surgery, only rest.

As a precautionary measure, the team held out Urlacher during offseason workouts, including organized team activities and minicamps.

Before working in a limited capacity on Thursday, Urlacher missed practice on Wednesday because of soreness in his left knee, on which he now wears a small brace.

“It drives me nuts,” Urlacher said of wearing the brace Wednesday on the “Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “It’s weird to wear, but I wore it this summer when I did my running drills. I feel comfortable with it on. The way my knee is now, I’ve gotten used to wearing it.”

Urlacher hasn’t suffered any type of setback in his recovery, and the soreness he’s experiencing now was likely expected by the team’s medical staff.