Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) is tackled by Chicago Bears safety Craig Steltz (20) and linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) in the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
When the Bears' face of the franchise, Brian Urlacher, returns to practice for the first time in three-and-a-half weeks, that's news in Chicago.
But head coach Lovie Smith just doesn't want you to read too much into it.
"I was encouraged that he was finally able to get on the practice field," Smith said Friday from the Walter Payton Center in Lake Forest. "It's not like we had a full padded practice today but he was able to move around, which we though he would be able to do."
The Bears say Urlacher is making normal progress three-and-a-half weeks after suffering a grade two hamstring strain in Overtime against the Seahawks.
Typically such injuries require two to four weeks of healing. The Bears didn't hold a full padded practice and weren't going full speed, so it's hard to judge where Urlacher is until he does so.
"You just have to see if he's ready to go," Smith cautioned. "I wouldn't take off too far on the Brian Urlacher talk, all we can tell you is he had a limited practice today which is progress for us, nothing more than that."
One orthopedic doctor in the Chicago area, who did not treat Urlacher, told NBC Chicago linebackers usually strain hamstrings up high and that the most important thing is getting burst of speed and sprinting back.
NBC Chicago video shot during limited media availability at Friday's workout showed Urlacher in linebacker drills moving laterally and doing some light jogging, but nothing full speed.
Last week the Bears middle linebacker arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium four hours before gametime to test out his hamstring with sprints in the endzone. He was ultimately ruled inactive.
Officially, the Bears list Urlacher as doubtful for Sunday's game in Detroit, though one should expect him to try sprinting before the 12 p.m. kickoff and be a gametime decision.