BOURBONNAIS _ It has become Brian Urlacher's mantra: "I'll be back by Sept. 9."
Speaking for the first time since Tuesday morning's arthroscopic debridement of his injured left knee, Urlacher's tune hasn't changed since the day before the surgery, when he last spoke.
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"Sept. 9," he said. "That's all I care about. Sept. 9 is all I care about."
That's when the Bears open the regular season at noon against the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field. The 34-year-old, eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker said it was decided on Monday night to have what is considered a minor procedure after rest failed to reduce the soreness and swelling he was experiencing.
"It just didn't feel like it was getting any better," Urlacher said of the knee, which he injured in last year's season finale. At that time, he suffered sprains of the MCL (medical collateral ligament) and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament).
"So we decided as a team, and as a training staff, that it would be better to do (the scope)," the Bears' captain said. "You never want to get surgery. If you can avoid it, you want to. But this is kind of the last resort to get it cleaned out and get the swelling down."
Although Urlacher has not practiced since July 31, and the surgery wasn't performed until Aug. 14, he said it wasn't a difficult decision.
"If it was something major, yeah (it would have been)," he said. "But the scope, it's a one-to-two-week recovery, so it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. It's the first time I've had something done on my knee. It's a little different. But if I'm going to have something done, that's the thing to be done.
"It is frustrating because, after seven months, you'd think you would be healthy again," he said. "It's just taken longer than I wanted. But I should be good to go now, hopefully."
Asked for a timetable on his return to practice, Urlacher said,
"Our goal is Sept. 9."
Urlacher anticipates that even after he returns to the playing field, his practice time will be curtailed throughout the season.