Mortensen: 2001 archive

Lewis still reigns, but these two are NFC's top MLBs

Oct. 6
Ray Lewis is The Man at middle linebacker in the NFL. Zach Thomas is The Next Man.

But if anyone dares peek at the Atlanta-Chicago game Sunday, they will be entertained by a duel between the two best middle linebackers in the NFC -- the Bears' Brian Urlacher and the Falcons' Keith Brooking, two explosive play-makers against the run and pass.

True, there is no challenge to Lewis' claim as the dominant man in the middle, but Urlacher (6-3, 248) and Brooking (6-2, 245) are physically imposing in their own right. Both are former first-round picks, Brooking in '99 and Urlacher in 2000.

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