Coach Lovie Smith said after Tuesday's practice at Olivet Nazarene University that Urlacher was excused for a second day for personal reasons. He now has missed six consecutive practices and will not play in Thursday's exhibition opener against the Broncos at Soldier Field.
But Smith said Sunday the club is going to take its time with Urlacher, leaving it open-ended as to when he will return. But Smith showed no panic about the situation that centers around the defensive leader's sore left knee.
"Brian will be our mike linebacker and all kinds of other things out there," Smith said.
Nick Roach will start in his place and that creates an opportunity for Geno Hayes to get work with the first team at strong-side linebacker. Roach has some experience in the middle from 2009.
"He's smart, really athletic, great in space, good coverage skills," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "We like Nick."
Questions about Urlacher will continue until there is clarity on his situation. Smith said he expected Urlacher to need some time in camp, but no one expected it to be an extended stretch.
Getting his returns: Devin Hester missed practice with an illness, but he could fill a return role against the Broncos. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Hester will be used in exhibition games to simulate catching the ball. Toub will instruct him to fair catch. The Bears are working on Hester improving catching short punts that sometimes take long rolls and back the offense up.
"Teams were trying to kick the rugby kick short and have it hit the ground where there was a chance it would hit us or roll," Toub said. "We want him to go up and fair catch those balls. Fair catch it. We'll get out of your way, but catch it."
Martz to the booth: Former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz will be in the booth this season — the television booth. Martz, who worked for NFL Network in 2009 before joining the Bears for two seasons, will be a game analyst for Fox. He's paired with Ron Pitts as the No. 7 crew for the network. If the Bears play well, Fox likely will send one of its top crews to handle their games on a regular basis. Ten games are scheduled on Fox.
Extra points: Perhaps it's a sign of how hard the Bears are looking for help at defensive end, but they dipped into the Arena League to sign Derek Walker to a one-year contract. The former Glenbard East and Illinois product spent part of the 2012 season with the Rush. He was with the Seahawks and 49ers briefly in 2009. To make room, offensive tackle Tyler Hendrickson was waived. … Defensive tackle DeMario Pressley (right ankle/foot) and linebacker Jabara Williams (hamstring) remained out.