Coach's big decision: Evaluating Urlacher

Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher practiced on Friday, and coach Lovie Smith didn’t sound 100 percent sure that the face of the franchise would play against the Detroit Lions. With so much on the line, if Urlacher is healthy enough to play, he should be out there.

But what if he gets in there, and two series into the game it appears Urlacher is hurting more than helping? That’s a determination the Bears need to make as soon as possible with so much riding on this game.

By starting Urlacher, the coaching staff already runs the risk of disrupting any chemistry already built up in his absence between Nick Roach, Lance Briggs and Geno Hayes. So if Urlacher isn’t playing up to par early on, the Bears need to move Roach back to the middle and insert Hayes on the strong side as quickly as possible and preserve their star linebacker for the playoffs.

Given Smith’s history with Urlacher, it will be a tough call for the coach to make if the linebacker isn’t performing. Still, Smith needs to identify whether Urlacher is early on and make a decision that will give the Bears the best chance to win.