Brian Urlacher walked into a meeting room yesterday with no limp, an encouraging sign for the Chicago Bears, still reeling from their first loss.
An MRI exam showed the star linebacker has a sprained big toe on his left foot and not the major injury the team feared.
"Brian means quite a bit to our football team, so that was cause for concern, but we feel a lot better about it now," coach Lovie Smith said.
Whether Urlacher will be able to play this Sunday night against the Giants was undetermined. But as the Bears tried to digest a 31-13 beating from Miami after seven straight wins, the news about Urlacher was some consolation.
"I was relieved to come in this morning and find out the MRIs and stuff were positive because I didn't know," fellow linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "After the game we had no idea what it was. I don't know much about it, but I know that it was good news."
The injury news wasn't so good for the Giants, as a sprained ligament in his right foot is going to keep Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan off his feet for at least a week and out of the lineup for at least two weeks to a month, and possibly longer.
Tests of Strahan's foot revealed a sprain to the Lis Franc ligament, one of the main stabilizers in the middle of the foot.
"This is not an injury that requires surgery," trainer Ronnie Barnes said. "Michael will be on crutches and in a boot for at least the next week. A reasonable timeframe for a possible return would be anywhere from two to four weeks."
Strahan, who was injured in the second quarter of Sunday's 14-10 win over Houston, told FOXSports.com that the recovery period might last up to two months. "It's really up to how long it takes to heal," Strahan said. "It's not torn, but it's similar to the injury that I had as a rookie that kept me out for several weeks."
Mathis out for year
Atlanta Falcons defensive back Kevin Mathis
suffered a season-ending neck injury Sunday that is not expected to require surgery. Mathis will be placed on injured reserve after being hurt on the opening kickoff of the Falcons' 30-14 loss at Detroit. Mathis has "all feeling, all movement" in all of his extremities, coach Jim Mora
said. Mathis was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field after leading with his helmet and hitting kick returner Eddie Drummond's
knee and thigh on the opening kickoff. He remained on the turf for several minutes and was kept in Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Sunday night . . . Rams kick returner Tony Fisher
is likely out for the rest of the season with a right knee injury. Results of an MRI were not in, but coach Scott Linehan
said it was "probable" that Fisher tore his ACL. Fisher, also the team's third-down back, was hurt making a cut on his second kickoff return Sunday against the Chiefs . . . Bills coach Dick Jauron
said running back Willis McGahee
has a broken rib and backup receiver Josh Reed
spent Sunday night in an area hospital with a bruised kidney after being hurt in Buffalo's 24-10 win over Green Bay. Reed's injury potentially is the most serious, as he was expected to spend last night in the hospital as a precaution. As unlikely as it might be for them to play at Indianapolis this weekend, Jauron said he will await further tests before ruling either player out . . . Broncos safety Sam Brandon
is out for the year after tearing a right knee ligament in Sunday's win at Pittsburgh. Brandon, who's been used mostly in nickel packages, probably will have surgery in the next 2-3 weeks after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament.
Garrard to start
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio
ended two weeks of speculation surrounding his quarterback situation, saying starter Byron Leftwich
is as healthy as he's going to get this season. His revelation cleared the way for mobile backup David Garrard
to make a third straight start Sunday against Houston, and possibly keep the job the rest of the season. Del Rio stopped short of selecting Garrard as his starter following consecutive wins, but he made it clear Leftwich's injured left ankle could keep him on the bench for the remaining eight games. "A healthy guy that's playing well is a no-brainer for me," Del Rio said . . . The Arizona Cardinals signed middle linebacker Gerald Hayes
to a five-year contract extension. Hayes, a fourth-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh in 2003, leads the team in tackles with 61, 50 solo, after missing the 2005 season with a knee injury. He also has two interceptions, one sack, and two fumble recoveries . . . Eagles defensive end Trent Cole
signed a five-year contract extension that could keep him with the team through 2013. A fifth-round pick from Cincinnati, Cole leads the Eagles with 6 1/2 sacks in eight games. He moved into the starting lineup when Jevon Kearse
went down with a season-ending knee injury . . . The NFL has moved the Chargers' Nov. 19 game at Denver from Sunday afternoon to 8:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally by NBC as part of the flexible schedule negotiated into the current television contract. Also, the Colts at Cowboys game that day has been switched from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on CBS
. The first game switched from Sunday afternoon to prime time was Bears-Giants Sunday night . . . The non-Patriots games in the Boston market Sunday are Saints at Steelers at 4 p.m. on Channel 25 and Bears-Giants at 8:15 on Channel 7.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.