Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is expected to miss the next three games and possibly the rest of the regular season with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, according to two sources familiar with his injury status.
Urlacher hopes to be fully recovered for the playoffs, provided the Bears remain in good postseason standing. A return for the Dec. 30 regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions is a possibility.
The eight-time Pro Bowler strained his right hamstring on the second-to-last play of Sunday’s 23-17 overtime loss to the Seahawks. Urlacher heard a "pop" as he chased Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson near the sideline. It was a non-contact injury.
Urlacher declined to discuss the injury or his playing status when reached by the Tribune. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday, which confirmed the Grade 2 strain.
Urlacher has started in all 16 games in nine of the past 12 seasons.
After Sunday’s loss, a team source indicated the Bears needed to prepare to play without Urlacher "for a while." Nick Roach took over at middle linebacker for the final play of overtime as Geno Hayes slid over to Roach’s spot at strong-side linebacker.
This week’s game against the Vikings would be Roach’s fourth career start at middle linebacker. The Bears also had linebacker Dom DeCicco at Halas Hall on Tuesday and re-signed him for depth at the position.
If the playoffs started today, the 8-4 Bears would be the fifth seed against the fourth-seeded and NFC East-leading Giants (7-5) on wild-card weekend Jan. 5-6. Such a scenario would give Urlacher a month to fully recover.
The 34-year-old Urlacher’s contract expires at the end of the season, and he still has a desire to play at least two more seasons depending on his health.
He entered the 2012 campaign recovering from a severe left knee injury sustained during last year’s season finale at Minnesota. Urlacher sprained his medial collateral ligament and partially sprained posterior cruciate ligament. He underwent multiples procedures to repair the damage.