By Teresa Varley
The Steelers will face a Bears team that is without the heart and soul of their defense after losing linebacker Brian Urlacher in the season-opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Urlacher suffered a broken wrist and underwent surgery on Monday, ending his season before it barely got started.
"It's like us losing Troy (Polamalu)," said wide receiver Hines Ward, referring to Polamalu being out three to six weeks with an MCL injury. "He is their emotional go-getter. He sets the tempo of their defense. Any time you lose a guy like that the other 10 guys rally around the other guy and elevate their game to another level.
"Chicago was coming in with Super Bowl aspirations and it all started with him. When he goes down you lose that special guy. Hopefully we can jump on them early and take their crowd out of it."
While he will be missed, the Steelers know that the Bears aren't going to fold because one player isn't in the lineup. It's still a strong defense and they are prepared for what they will bring.
"I am sure they have someone who is going to bring the pain and make them click without him," said running back Willie Parker.
What the Bears will lose is Urlacher's ability to cover the field laterally, something he excels at.
"There might be some falloff, but I expect to see a very similar defense," said tackle Max Starks. "I think it's just a question of the lateral speed of their defense. Brian Urlacher covers sideline to sideline better than most guys in this entire league. You might sacrifice something there."
And while some might like the reprieve that comes with not going against one of the top defenders on the team, Parker wishes that Urlacher was playing on Sunday.
"I am a competitor. I want to play against their best," said Parker. "I want Urlacher in there. I don't know if it will be an advantage or disadvantage. We will have to wait and see. They will be ready for us. They are coming off a loss and playing at home for the first time this year."