Eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher only played until just past halftime Sunday -- not as nearly much as he would have liked.
Urlacher had said earlier in the week that he expected to play the entire game against the Colts at Soldier Field, even after missing all of the preseason and the vast majority of training camp.
But that was hardly necessary in the Bears' 41-21 victory.
Unofficial press box statistics credited Urlacher with 1 solo tackle, 1 assist and 1 pass breakup, but he really wasn't expected to be a difference-maker. The important thing was taking the next step along the rehab path with his surgical left knee.
"We wanted to get him in some game action," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "We've been telling you that he's OK, and that he'd be ready to go this first game, which he was. You just want to get him out there into the mix.
"Everybody needs to get that first game. You can't really go an awful lot on what happens in training camp or in the preseason as to what is really going to happen during the course of the year."
Urlacher said his early departure was not because of the knee on which he had arthroscopic surgery Aug. 14.
"My knee is fine," he said. "I felt good. I had no issues moving around, no pain, nothing like that. The stupid knee brace was there, but that was about it."
The Bears' captain said his early-third-quarter hook was not planned.
"That was a change-up," he said. "I don't like coming out of the game, but that's the head coach. I do what he says."
Smith said Urlacher was not a fan of the decision to sit him.
"When we told him he was coming out, it's not like he told us that it was a great idea," the coach said. "Brian wanted to play the entire game."
Nick Roach moved over from strong-side linebacker to the middle, while Geno Hayes stepped in for Roach. Urlacher was relegated to cheerleader for a unit the forced 4 turnovers and got 3 sacks.
"I wanted to get back in there the whole time," he said. "We made a lot of plays. I'd rather be in there, but it was fun to watch our defense play like that."