'Preseason' over for improving Urlacher

Brian Urlacher's conditioning continues to improve as he plays himself into shape. David Banks/Getty Images

LAKE FOREST -- A normal preseason for any NFL veteran usually means seeing action in three exhibition games to get ready for the regular season. By that measurement, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher’s training camp just ended.

Urlacher, sidelined with a knee injury all of July and August, played in all three regular-season games so far but not up to speed or up to his usual high standards.

All that might be changing now that he’s closer to “football ready condition.”

“The more I play the better I’ll get, the more in-shape I’ll get,” Urlacher said Friday. “Preseason just ended for me. That’s the way I look at it. I didn’t play the entire preseason, now I feel like I’m in a little bit better game shape and run a little bit better.”

Urlacher has 14 tackles and no turnovers or sacks, but stats don’t tell his story. He simply hasn’t been the Urlacher people and opposing offenses have come to fear. Maybe that’s slowly changing.

“That’s a guy that can take a game over,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said after practice on Friday. “You can see him getting better and better each week. He’s just special.”

And that could be bad news for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who poses a good test for Urlacher on Monday night. Romo likes to “run around” but not necessarily up field. He buys time with his feet so he can make plays with his arm and that means Urlacher will be running around, too.

At full health -- or close to it--no one knows for sure at what level Urlacher can play at, but everyone would like to see it.

“I think game by game he’s progressing,” Marinelli said.