Kaplan: Week 1 for Urlacher 'aggressive'

The Chicago Bears are shooting for a Week 1 return for linebacker Brian Urlacher, but ESPN medical analyst Dr. Michael Kaplan believes that might be too optimistic.

"It's a little aggressive to have him back for the opener," Kaplan said Tuesday on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000. "I'm not sure or confident that that is going to happen. Obviously, it's something to shoot toward, but it's going to matter really how much damage he has to the joint surface.

"They will clean it up as they said, and then along the way during the season, if he has flare-ups, pain, swelling, they can inject him with steroids, they can give him the synthetic lubricant injection, give him anti-inflammatory medicines, therapy, stuff just to keep it manageable so he can get through the season."

General manager Phil Emery said Urlacher underwent an arthroscopic procedure to clean up tissue in his left knee Tuesday and said the team's goal is to have him ready for the Sept. 9 season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

Urlacher sprained the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee during the Bears' 2011 regular-season finale. After participating in the first few training camp practices, has sat out.

Kaplan said swelling will be a problem for Urlacher in his quest to return.

"The ligaments that he had injured don't need to be fixed. The MCL almost always heals on its own," Kaplan said. "The posterior cruciate was not a complete rupture; it was not grossly unstable, so he didn't need surgery last December. And most of that I'm sure is already healed. What remains a problem is the swelling, and that's likely predicated on joint surface irritation or scuffing of the joint surface."

Urlacher told Fox Chicago that the knee likely will be an issue he has to deal with all season, and Kaplan agrees.

"He's not going to be good as new," Kaplan said. "You try to make him better. It's not necessarily going to be a home run, but you'll obviously do what you can to quiet his soreness, to decrease his symptoms. But these aren't normal guys. These are elite, incredibly tough, supremely fit individuals, so they play with a fair amount of problems. I know many of these professional NFL players that have had four, five, six knee scopes and continue to carry on. It bites them in the fanny at age 45 and 55, but for the time being you do what you have to do to stay in the game."