Brian Urlacher is right. It doesn't matter one bit whether or not he participates in minicamp.
Urlacher is entering his 13th season with the Bears and his ninth as the centerpiece of a Lovie Smith defense. I'm sure he can tell you his role in everything the Bears will run defensively in his sleep. He may need a training camp, or most of one, to be physically ready for the Sept. 9 opener versus the Colts, but the fact that he didn't participate in a mandatory minicamp from June 12-14 is irrelevant.
Well, it's irrelevant if Urlacher's knee is indeed at 100 percent, or close to it, by the time Bears report to camp in late July. Urlacher can say what he wants — he told the Chicago Tribune he "could have" participated in minicamp —but until he shows up in Bourbonnais and proves on the field that he's himself in the wake of a sprained MCL and partially sprained PCL suffered in the final game of the 2012 season, I'll be skeptical.
Urlacher is 34 years old. He's already started to decline. His age will probably make it more difficult to recover quickly from injuries like the ones he suffered. Plus, they'll have had an adverse effect on his offseason conditioning. It's extremely tough for me to believe that he'll be the Urlacher Bears fans know and love come Sept. 9.
I'm on record as being extremely optimistic about the Bears' chances this season. I've felt that way while factoring in that Urlacher would probably be a notch or two below what he was last season. Slight decline, but continued productivity, from Urlacher is something the Bears can overcome and still be successful. I don't think they can overcome big-time struggles as he battles a balky knee. He just means too much to their defense.