BOURBONNAIS, Ill. | Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and still hopes to be ready for the season opener.
The Bears said that Urlacher had an arthroscopic debridement procedure on Tuesday morning to help relieve swelling in the knee and was back at training camp by 10 a.m. He missed the offseason training program after spraining the medial collateral ligament and partially spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in the final game last year against Minnesota.
Urlacher was ready for the start of camp, but has not practiced since July 31 and was away from the team recently for what were described as personal reasons. Even so, he said Sunday that he expects to be ready for the opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 9.
Urlacher told WFLD Fox-32 in Chicago on Sunday that he didn't know if there was arthroscopic surgery he could have and still return in two weeks.
"I am just going to keep resting right now," he said. "I have never had a scope. I don't know how that stuff works. This is the first time I have ever done anything to my knee so I am kind of new to this. I don't know. Honestly, I don't know how that works."
Urlacher acknowledged that the knee could be an issue all season, adding, "I don't see it getting any better during the season. We have to manage it, my reps in practice, and then get through Sunday."
This is an important season for Urlacher, a 13-year veteran and mainstay for the Chicago defense. He has an expiring contract and is prepared to enter free agency, although he would like to remain with the Bears.
Without Urlacher, Nick Roach has moved over from strong side linebacker to the middle and Geno Hayes is playing strong side. Roach had to play the position in 2009 for three games after Urlacher suffered a season-ending dislocated wrist in the opener.
Defensive players called the latest surgery a minor setback.
"It's a very long season," linebacker Lance Briggs said. "We have 16 games of getting to the playoffs in order to get ourselves into a position to play in the Super Bowl, to win the thing. That's what we have to keep in perspective."
He noted that Urlacher was back at camp: "He's a competitor and in his heart, he wants to be out on the field playing football with the rest of us, and it really tears at him that he can't do that right now."