Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who has missed the last seven practices at training camp with a sore left knee, said he does not know when he will return to practice but will start in the Bears' regular-season opener Sept. 9 against the Indianapolis Colts.
''Sept. 9 -- I'll be ready to play for sure,'' Urlacher said Sunday after lunch at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais when asked if he had a timetable for his return. ''That's all that matters to me. Preseason games and all these practices -- I'd love to be out there. But I'm not going to put myself in jeopardy of missing the first game.''
Urlacher missed much of the offseason program rehabilitating sprained ligaments in his left knee, an injury he suffered in the final game of last season. He participated in the first five practices -- the last three in full pads -- but has not practiced since July 31 because of soreness in the knee.
''The first four or five days it felt pretty good and then it got sore and started swelling,'' Urlacher told reporters. ''So I'm taking some time off right now.
He said the injured knee feels better than it did, but didn't sound like he was ready to return to practice.
''I've been off for nine, 10 days now. It feels better. When I'm not running around on it, of course it's not going to swell up as bad.''
He did not say whether he had any further tests on the knee since it became a problem.
''My doctors are the best. I trust what they say,'' Urlacher said. ''I just do what I'm told to do.''
He said he was not concerned the knee will be a recurring issue once he gives it the proper rest. ''No. Once I'm back out there, we'll monitor my reps and try to make sure it doesn't blow up again.''
It remains to be seen if Urlacher's knee will be 100 percent. It's likely his practice time -- and perhaps playing time -- will have to be managed this season.
''I hope it's 100 percent,'' he said. ''I felt great coming into training camp. The brace doesn't allow me to do a lot of things, but I still ran pretty fast and moved around pretty good.''