A real breakthrough occurred at Bears camp Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Lovie Smith acknowledged to the media that Brian Urlacher has knees.
Wait, that's not all. Smith also mentioned out loud that the Bears' middle linebacker is experiencing soreness in his recovering left knee.
This comes after Smith spent a week dancing around Urlacher's condition and absence from Bourbonnais by repeatedly repeating, "Excused absence … personal reasons."
Urlacher did show up at practice Saturday but didn't participate. Hey, you can't have everything.
Remaining a mystery is where Urlacher was last week.
It doesn't really matter unless his knee prevents him from playing in the season opener Sept. 9.
Still, curiosity overcomes me. It would be nice if Smith shed a little light on the subject, but that's like asking a truck to fly.
Seriously, if Urlacher arrived on crutches with a leg missing, Smith would mutter, "excused presence … personal reasons."
An extended dialogue on Urlacher might go something like this.
"Coach, the Bears signed a couple of linebackers today…"
"Are you sure we did?"
"Yes. Is that an indication the club is concerned about Urlacher's availability?"
"The Bears signing a couple of linebackers is an indication that the Bears signed a couple of linebackers."
"Can you tell us where Urlacher was last week?"
"We knew where Brian was."
"Was he in town, in the country, in the hemisphere…? "
"We knew where he was, and we'll go from here."
"Did the Bears have to send out a posse to find Brian?"
The media might take that gibberish as an opportunity to take a deep breath before continuing.
"Coach, a blogger wrote that the 'personal reasons' Brian missed practice for were that he volunteered for Special Forces in Afghanistan."
"Come on, men, you know that military information, like football information, is classified."
"So that's not a no?"
"A fan of the Olympics tweeted that Urlacher was spotted competing for the United States in rhythmic gymnastics … any truth to that?"
"I don't talk about athletes on other teams."
"So that's a yes?"
"Pardon me, coach."
Bears general manager Phil Emery mentioned on the radio Thursday that Urlacher was resting his knee.
"Coach, Phil Emery … "
"Phil Emery. Your boss, the man whose hands your future is in."
"Oh, that Phil Emery."
"Yes. Can you help us with where Urlacher was resting his knee?"
"I can't confirm nor deny any location."
"We thought maybe you could expand on the situation."
The media had to exhaust the topic of the day before admitting themselves into a mental institution.
"Coach, was that really rookie Shea McClellin out there against the Broncos or Brian Urlacher wearing 99 instead of 54?"
"I don't understand the question."
"They look a lot alike, you know, give or take a dozen years. So could you have pulled the ol' switcheroo to spare Brian's knee from more scrutiny?"
"Are you accusing me of deception?"
"You? Deceptive? Never. Not you."
"Good, because that would be a cheap shot. Anything else?"
"Is Urlacher still dating Jenny McCarthy and might that be where he was last week?"
"The Packers' coach?"
"That's Mike McCarthy. Jenny, the actress, his most recent squeeze, might Brian have been with her?"
"What about mistletoe?"
Apparently breakthroughs can be made in a day, but complete breakthroughs take a little longer.