Smith on Urlacher: ‘Trust the plan’

LAKE FOREST – Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher will start Thursday against Green Bay despite missing the only practice of a shortened week, coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday.

“Brian is on track,” Smith said. “We have a plan for him. You’ve just got to trust the plan.”

Whether Bears cornerback Charles Tillman starts alongside Urlacher is less certain. Tillman missed practice because of a shin injury that he suffered Sunday against Indianapolis.

“Charles’ shin is getting better,” Smith said. “We have a little bit of time still before the game.”

Urlacher, 34, left the practice field before reporters could ask him about his left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery last month and has limited him to two practices since. Although he started in Sunday’s season opener against the Colts, Smith pulled him early in the third quarter with the Bears leading by 20 points.

A lopsided score is unlikely against the Packers, who averaged 35 points a game last year to lead the NFL. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers could test the deep middle of the field, which is Urlacher’s responsibility as part of the Bears’ frequently used Cover-2 defense.

Naturally, Rodgers did not want to share the Packers’ strategy against Urlacher and the rest of the Bears’ defense during a conference call with reporters at Halas Hall.

“He’s really savvy as far as reading his keys, making plays on the football when he can,” Rodgers said. “He does a great job out there. I have a lot of respect for the way he plays the game and how he conducts himself as a professional.”

Tall tale: Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said he looked forward to one-on-one battles against Packers defenders, who have a reputation for being physical in the secondary.

“It’s all about matchups,” Marshall said. “I’m 6-(foot)-5, 230 (pounds), and there’s not too many DBs walking around that are that big. If they want to get physical, I do welcome that.”

Wait a second. If Marshall is 6-5, why does the Bears media guide list him at 6-4?

“At the combine they had me at 6-4,” Marshall said. “I didn’t want to start being a headache that soon, so I just kind of let them have it. I walk around telling everyone I’m 6-5. I had to at least get to the NFL before I started giving everyone headaches.”

Take two: Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice backtracked on comments from last week in which he said right tackle Gabe Carimi was not 100 percent healthy.

“I was not concerned,” Tice said. “You guys were concerned. And he got a game ball. So I guess he wasn’t that concerned.”

Apparently not. Carimi played 100 percent of the snaps on offense against Indianapolis.

Bears bits: Tight end Kyle Adams was limited in practice because of a shoulder injury. … Three Packers players did not practice: receiver Greg Jennings (groin), running back James Starks (toe) and linebacker Terrell Manning (concussion).

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