NEWS

Bears notebook: Urlacher a happy, healthy camper

Matt Trowbridge

Before Devin Hester surprised the Bears by not showing up for the first day of training camp Wednesday the big worry was how much Brian Urlacher’s contract tussle would distract the Bears.

The answer: Not at all. And not just because Urlacher, with four years left on his old deal, signed a five-year extension with $18 million in new money earlier this week.

“It wouldn’t have been a distraction if I hadn’t got it done,” Urlacher said Wednesday. “They had me for four more years. Luckily, it worked out and I got one more year on there and some other things. I got it fixed up, but either way I was going to be here.”

He also seems happier than at any point last year, when he gave one-word answers to the media and was bothered by back and neck injuries. He said both are fine now.

“It won’t be a test to see how my neck holds up. I’m not worried about it. Doctors cleared me. I trust them. If they tell me I’m OK, I’m OK.”

And if Urlacher is happy, his teammates are happy.

“There were clouds everywhere yesterday, and here we go, the sun comes out the day of practice,” defensive end Alex Brown said. “It’s nice not to have stuff lingering over you, to have the leader of your defense, and maybe the face of the franchise, in the fold and here on time.”

Kreutz, Dvoracek hurt

Running back Kevin Jones (knee) was put on the Physically Unable to Perform list. That was expected. But center Olin Kreutz (achilles) was a surprise. Players can be taken off the PUP list at any time during training camp. Also, defensive tackles Dusty Dvoracek (calf) and Anthony Adams (stomach) were placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

“Olin missing a couple of practices is not a whole lot of cause for concern,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Eventually he will be OK.”

Dvoracek spent most of his first two seasons on injured reserve with foot and knee injuries. Smith said this injury is not significant. “Whenever a guy misses any amount of time, there’s a little bit of concern, but not a whole lot. He will be fine.”

Sights from camp

Rex Grossman completed his first three passes in 7-on-7 drills, including a 40-yarder that Marty Booker hauled in with one hand to big applause from the fans. But Nathan Vasher intercepted his fourth pass.

Other big attention-grabbers for the fans was third-round draft pick Earl Bennett catching a 30-yard strike from rookie Caleb Hanie and oft-injured Mark Bradley snaring a sideline strike from Grossman.

Just don’t ask the coaches how the quarterbacks looked.

“Don’t try to pick out this guy threw it a little better,” Smith said. “I’d let it all play out.”

Grossman bristled when asked him if he felt like the favorite.

“I’m not going to answer that, and I hope you wouldn’t ask those kind of questions, trying to lead me on like that,” Grossman said.

Grossman won the coin flip Wednesday to work with the first team. It’s Kyle Orton’s turn today.

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.