From Comcast SportsNetLAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher returned to practice Monday for the first time since July 31, hoping to play in Sunday's season opener.Urlacher did not stop to talk to reporters, but coach Lovie Smith said the eight-time Pro Bowl player looked good considering he had arthroscopic surgery to his left knee Aug. 14."He had a good first day back," coach Lovie Smith said. "He's got to get in shape. I'm sure he'll tell you that and a few other things like that. But we didn't have any trouble with him today. He's right on schedule."Urlacher did talk to Fox TV before Monday about his condition and said, "I'm playing Sunday. That's a done deal."However, Urlacher also said the knee will not be 100 percent. "I will be as close to it as I can be," he said. "I have been doing some things. I've been in the pool. I have been running with our trainers and stuff on the side. But it's hard to get in shape in a week of practice. It's not possible. But I will get as close as I can to it."Bears players liked what they saw of Urlacher in practice."He's back in the flow," linebacker Nick Roach said. "We're still a long way away from Sunday, but just having him back is definitely positive."With Urlacher back, defensive players returned to their normal routine. Roach moved from the middle back to his regular starting spot on the strong side.Beyond Urlacher, the Bears also had starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea back from an ankle injury and starting safety Chris Conte returning from a shoulder injury. Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who signed early Monday, worked, and defensive tackle Brian Price was cut when Okoye signed.Okoye had four sacks for the Bears last year, but left in free agency for Tampa on a one-year, 2 million contract. He had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and reached an injury settlement when he was cut by the Bucs on Friday. The Bears gave him a physical and are convinced he can help as a backup to Henry Melton."Amobi is one of our guys," Smith said. "There was disappointment when he signed with the Bucs. He's a young football player."Everybody was excited about getting him back. I know he's been injured before down there, but he had a good day of practice today."Okoye said his knee has healed completely after he tried to come back too soon. He immediately felt a part of the Bears' defense."It fits like a glove," he said. "Being here last year and knowing what I like to do, and what this defense asks of me to do, it's perfect."The Bears had acquired Price from Tampa Bay in July for a 2013 draft pick. But he struggled coming off a leg injury and sustained a head injury in the final preseason game -- the latest blow for a player who's had a rough time.Two brothers were killed in shootings in Los Angeles while he was growing up. His sister died in a car accident in May, and he and his wife decided to adopt her children. There were also reports of a fight with rookie safety Mark Barron -- a first-round pick this year -- in a team meeting room, an altercation that occurred a few weeks after Price was hospitalized for several days for mental and physical exhaustion following his sister's death.A second-round pick in 2010, Price, 23, played in 20 games with the Bucs, producing 27 tackles and three sacks.
00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.
05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.
10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati.
16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.
This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats.
As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions.
The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around.
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“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”
In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game.
If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone.
Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016.
With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1.