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"Of course, that's the injury factor. I think it's very important for him to be able to get back to where he was a couple of years ago because it will require a little bit different philosophy on offenses and help Urlacher or whoever's playing in the middle to make some plays."
And what about Urlacher? Can he be the player he was?
"It'll be interesting," said Butkus, who was in Dallas on Monday to speak at the Herbstreit Varsity Football Series Games as part of his "I Play Clean" campaign to educate young players about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.
The fact that Urlacher's healthier is a good sign, and the Bears' legend expects the current star to have a good season.
It doesn't hurt that a top-tier quarterback is running the offense and taking some pressure off the defense, even if there are questions about Cutler's ability to lead. His record as a starter is 17-20 and he just forced his way out of Denver over new coach Josh McDaniels' pursuit of Matt Cassel.
"Halas probably would have handled it where Jay Cutler would probably be playing in Canada somewhere," Butkus said.
Instead, he's a big source of optimism in Chicago even though his transition has been a bit bumpy.
First, he and Urlacher found themselves denying a rift at the start of training camp, thanks to comments Vikings receiver Bobby Wade made to a Minneapolis radio station. The former Bear said Urlacher questioned Cutler's manhood and used a profanity to describe him during a conversation in Las Vegas. Cutler also offended receiver Devin Hester with a comment after one of the preseason games, although that issue was quickly smoothed over.
More important, the Bears finally resolved a big issue at the most important position.
"I think they're way ahead on the quarterback front, so the pressure I think is swinging over on the defense," Butkus said. "You've got to give them the ball and get some turnovers and play like you usually play them. And it should be fine. And put Hester back on the special teams and everything will be fine."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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