Expectations are sky-high for the Chicago Bears following an offseason that finally saw the team add a big, dynamic threat in the receiver game in the form of Brandon Marshall. But while everyone is excited to see what Jay Cutler and the offense can do, it's the health of the highly paid veteran starters on defense that may truly determine if Chicago's Super Bowl aspiration come to fruition. There isn't much depth behind Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Julius Peppers, and every one of those players is on the wrong side of 30.
Urlacher injured his left knee in the final game of last season and it has caused him to miss all of the Bears' offseason workouts thus far. The team and the player have vowed all along that No. 54 will be on the field when training camp opens, and Urlacher only reinforced it during an interview with ESPN Radio 1000 on Wednesday. The linebacker also said he plans to play 2-3 more years and enter free agency for the first time in his career at seasons end.
Urlacher on how long he wants to play:
"I always say (I want to keep playing) two to three more years. It all depends on how I play on the field, because if I don't play good enough, nobody is going to want me. But if I keep playing well and at a high level, then two to three more years at least, I think."
Urlacher on his future in Chicago:
"I want to be here, no doubt about that," Urlacher said. "(Bears president and CEO) Ted Phillips said at the NFL owners meetings that they are going to wait until the season is over to address my situation. That's the mindset I'm taking into this. When the season is over, then we'll talk about it.
"I'll be a free agent when the season is over and whatever happens, happens. From everything that Ted Phillips said I'll be a free agent when the season is over. It's a business. That's the risk you take. If you let a player get to free agency, then they can leave. That's their (decision). They can leave if they want to. That's how it goes."
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