Vikings will face Bears defense sans Urlacher

The Vikings will face a Bears defense that is ranked fifth overall, but it will be missing middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.

When the Vikings play the Bears on Sunday, they won't be seeing a familiar face – future Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Urlacher, the leader of the Bears defense, has been battling a hamstring injury and the Bears have decided to shut him down for the remainder of the regular season in hopes the hamstring can heal enough to make him available for the playoffs.

On Tuesday in an interview with the local FOX-TV affiliate in Chicago, Urlacher acknowledged that he may have played his last game with the Bears, saying, "I don't think that's going to happen, but, if it does, I have had a really good and long career. So, I would be sad, but I wouldn't be crushed."

Urlacher has played the entire season at less than 100 percent, as injuries and age have taken a toll on the 13-year veteran. He has remained the emotional leader of the defense and time hasn't eroded his skill as quickly as some expected, so his absence from the lineup with be a huge loss for a Bears team suddenly in a dogfight for the NFC North title after falling into a tie with Green Bay for the division lead after being in first place all season.

It will be strange to see the Chicago defense on the field without No. 54 patrolling the middle, but, as the Vikings battle for their postseason lives, not seeing Urlacher calling the defensive signals will be a welcome sight for the Vikings offense, because it will represent one less weapon at the Bears' disposal Sunday.

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • Jared Allen's MRI on his back Tuesday revealed no structural damage and he has been cleared to continue playing. Allen has been suffering from back spasms and has been working his way through a shoulder injury as well this season. Last week, Allen credited the Vikings training and medical staff for being instrumental in getting his body ready to play each Sunday.

  • Former Vikings offensive lineman John Henry Ward, who played in two Super Bowls during his six-year Vikings career (1970-75), died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 64. Ward was a first-round pick of the Vikings in the 1970 draft.

  • The Vikings are now 10th in the NFC in terms of playoff standings, meaning that not only are they out of the playoff picture at 6-6, they're behind the other three NFC teams with 6-6 records because of losing out in tie-breaker scenarios.

  • Packers running back James Starks suffered a knee injury against the Vikings Sunday that may have ended his 2012 season. He is expected to be placed on injured reserve this week.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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