<
>

Packers TE: Brian Urlacher 'slow'

The Bears will be without star linebacker Brian Urlacher when they face Green Bay this weekend, and Packers tight end Jermichael Finley said that actually might be a good thing for Chicago.

"Urlacher is at the end of his career right now; he's playing a little slow out there," Finley told Fox Sports Wisconsin on Wednesday. "I don't think they're losing too much if he's out. Putting another guy in might help them a little."

Finley tried to clarify his remarks on his Twitter account Thursday morning.

"Urlacher is a hall of fame player and person. I meant no disrespect to him in previous comments, I was simply trying to explain that his replacement in the lineup is a good player as well," Finley tweeted.

In his 13th season, Urlacher is recovering from a Grade 2 hamstring tear he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 2. Urlacher also has been slowed by a knee injury all season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery during training camp.

Urlacher, whose contract expires after this season, said he "100 percent" expects to be back for the playoffs, but that is not a given for the slumping Bears. After starting the season 7-1, they have dropped four of five games entering Sunday's matchup with the NFC North-leading Packers.

Nick Roach moved from strongside linebacker to Urlacher's middle spot in the Bears' 21-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He had a season-high nine tackles, including two for a loss.

Veteran Geno Hayes has taken over as a starter at strongside linebacker in place of Roach.

The Bears have been hit with a rash of injuries during their downturn. Coach Lovie Smith decided to skip a full practice Wednesday, but if the team had practiced, 11 players would have missed the workout.

Quarterback Jay Cutler (neck/knee) topped the list, along with receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) and linebackers Lance Briggs (knee/hip), Hayes (knee), and Urlacher. Running back Michael Bush (ribs) was also listed among those that wouldn't have practiced along with tight end Kellen Davis (knee), cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder), defensive end Shea McClellin (knee), defensive tackle Henry Melton (chest), and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (shoulder).