[size=18px]URLACHER PICKING BEARS AS TEAM TO BEAT IN NFC NORTH [/size]
Just more than a month before the opening of training camp, Brian Urlacher boldly proclaims the Bears are "the team to beat" in the NFC North.
"I think we are going to be the team to beat. That's the only way to look at it," he said. "We're healthy. Rex Grossman is back. Mike Brown is back. We're jacked. We looked good in practice, flying all over the place. It's an exciting time right now."
The Bears finished 5-11 and in last place last season.
Asked his reaction to future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre returning to the defending division-champion Packers, Urlacher said, "He's not on my team, so I don't really care. I guess it's good for [his] team."
Urlacher, who missed significant time last season because of hamstring and lower leg injuries, is banking on staying healthy in 2005. He appeared in just nine games last season, recording 55 tackles, five sacks and one interception. New strength and conditioning coordinator Rusty Jones has stressed flexibility exercises during the off-season. In addition, the Bears have been introduced to a more nutritious, if less tasty diet at the Halas Hall dining room.
"I am definitely more flexible," Urlacher said. "I stretch two or three times a day now. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ All of the guys are raving about it. If we can stay healthy, we will be good."
Urlacher is concentrating more on his professional life than his social life this off-season.
"I went to Phoenix for a couple months, then I came back here," he said. "I started working a month early during the off-season because of my hamstring, so I have been working out for a while. We've always had great participation in the off-season. Everyone is optimistic. No one is giving us a chance, and that's the way we like it.
Whatever!... the Bears!? That's a new one :lol: