Urlacher toe injury not serious; LB might play Sunday

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Brian Urlacher walked into a meeting room Monday with no noticeable limp, an encouraging sign for a Chicago Bears team still reeling from its first loss.

An MRI exam showed the star linebacker has a sprained big toe on
his left foot and not the major injury the team had feared.

"Brian means quite a bit to our football team, so that was
cause for concern, but we feel a lot better about it now," coach
Lovie Smith said Monday.

Whether Urlacher will be able to play this Sunday against the
Giants was undetermined. But as the Bears tried to digest a 31-13
beating from Miami after seven straight wins, the news about
Urlacher was some consolation.

"I was relieved to come in this morning and find out the MRIs
and stuff were positive because I didn't know," fellow linebacker
Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "After the game we had no idea what it
was. I don't know much about it, but I know that it was good

Urlacher was injured in the pileup after making a tackle with
just more than a minute left Sunday. Although he didn't comment to
reporters at Halas Hall on Monday, last year's NFL Defensive Player
of the Year earlier told foxsports.com he hoped to play Sunday night against the Giants.

"If it's up to me, I will. They told me it all depends on how
much pain I can take. I can deal with that," Urlacher said.

Wait and see, Smith said.

"He feels better today and hopefully he'll be able to feel
better and be able to go this week," Smith said. "We'll see how
it goes with him."

If Urlacher can't go, Hillenmeyer would move to middle

"Well, if we put him on the field, we'll hope he will be able
to go the distance," Smith said of Urlacher. "But you always have
to have a backup plan. We have a backup plan at the linebacker
position and if we have to go with it, we will."

Smith said he wasn't sure if Urlacher, credited with 16 tackles
Sunday following a tape review, would be able to practice as the
Bears prepare for an NFC showdown with the Giants.

"I think if you asked him, he'll probably say he's planning on
practicing Wednesday," Smith said. "Brian is a quick healer, as
he told me this morning. Hopefully he'll be able to go and get some
practice in."

The Bears have already lost another key member of their defense
in a pileup. Safety Mike Brown was put on injured reserve after he
suffered ligament damage in his foot against Arizona on Oct. 16.

Chicago also played most of Sunday's game without Bernard Berrian, their primary deep threat receiver, who has four TD
catches this season. He bruised ribs after making a 10-yard
reception on the Bears' first scrimmage play. His status is also

Quarterback Rex Grossman, who threw four interceptions and had
two fumbles in that Oct. 16 win at Arizona, had a similarly shaky
outing against the Dolphins. He pitched three interceptions and had
one of the three fumbles the Bears lost.

The Bears' defense, meanwhile, had trouble slowing down Dolphins
running back Ronnie Brown, who gained 157 yards on 29 carries.

"Everybody is still pretty upset and disappointed about the way
we played," defensive back Nathan Vasher said Monday.

With a three-game road swing, with games against the Giants,
Jets and Patriots, the Bears know they're in for the most difficult
stretch of the season. They hadn't planned on entering it off such
a poor performance.

That's why having Urlacher in the middle chasing ball carriers
and calling signals is crucial. Urlacher missed seven games in
2004, mostly with hamstring problems, and the Bears went 0-7 in his

"Brian's such a leader out there. He's a guy who is probably as
important as anyone in this locker room in what he brings as a
player and a leader," Hillenmeyer said.

Special teams player Brandon McGowan, a safety, ruptured his
Achilles' tendon, will have surgery and be placed on injured