Brian Urlacher is 100-percent healthy and ready to fully participate in offseason workouts and training camp, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said on the team's website Wednesday.
Angelo, in an interview with ChicagoBears.com senior writer Larry Mayer, also said everyone will have to wait and see how much the return of Urlacher and the addition of free agents Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna will improve the team next season.
"We'd like to think we're going to be a lot better in certain areas," Angelo said. "But until everything comes together and we start into training camp and then the season, nobody can say for sure. So I'm not going to sit here and tell you that everything is going to be great. We feel what we did in the offseason is what we needed to do. We wanted to make some major changes and there are certain areas--in particular our pass rush--that we wanted to put teeth into, and we feel we've done that. Offensively, we got two players who fit our scheme. [Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna] has familiarity with it, and [Chester Taylor] is the type of back who's done well in this scheme. We feel like we've helped ourselves on both sides of the ball. Obviously we've lost some players as well. We just have to wait and see, and see how things continue to come together. But we're very optimistic."
Angelo told Mayer he also attempted to add a veteran offensive lineman earlier this offseason, to no avail.
"We were looking at the offensive line," he said. "It's not to say that we're not comfortable with the players that we have in place right now. We have some young players that are prototypically what we're looking for. But they're young players, so we potentially were looking for another veteran to get into the mix. I'm not going to say it was a major deal, but it was something that we were looking at.
Despite the emphasis Angelo and coach Lovie Smith placed on adding a safety, and preferably a veteran, the general manager said he is satisfied with the safeties on the current roster.
"Right now we would be comfortable starting with the present cast of players at the position," he said. "Certainly it's a much talked about position. I'm talking about the safeties and the corners, and we're going to look hard at that. We did sign [cornerback] Tim Jennings, a young player with talent that has familiarity with the scheme. We looked at a veteran safety, but we felt that we wanted to pass on that. We just didn't feel the timing was right. So we'll just wait and see. Again, you're not going to field a Pro Bowler at every position, and you don't have to. The players that we presently have we feel good about. But we always want to create competition and better depth."
Angelo concluded the interview by saying the desire to develop young players such as Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton contributed to the decision to release veteran defensive end Alex Brown.
"A lot of it had to do with the players behind him," Angelo said. "We have some good young players that need to play. We felt that to do that we needed to make the move with Alex. Alex has been a great player for us. He's had a tremendous career with the Bears. We certainly wish him nothing but the best. But in terms of us moving forward, we wanted to make some major changes to upgrade our defense. We have not played the kind of defense that we need to play and want to play here in the last several years. So the moves we've made were with that in mind."