(CBS) As we count down to Bourbonnais, a panel of 15 670 The Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 most important Bears players for the 2012 season. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will release the 10 Most Important Bears over the next 10 weekdays.
No. 4 Brian Urlacher (82 points)
Like it or not, the Super Bowl window is closing for the Bears defense. We've already stressed the importance of the defensive line in this series and the secondary certainly needs new stars too. The linebackers are supposed to be the sure thing -- at least for one more season.
Unfortunately, we don't know if Brian Urlacher will be a sure thing in 2012. Coming off a knee injury in the season finale, it was somewhat of a surprise to see him sit out OTAs and mini-camp considering he didn't need surgery. Is he OK? We'll find out when training camp starts.
Even if he is healthy, Urlacher is now 34 years old. This may be the last season the Bears can count on him to be the middle linebacker he has been throughout his esteemed career. The good news is that it's a contract year for No. 54, which means there is plenty of motivation for a big season. But it's not like Urlacher needs it to be a contract year for motivation. Having tasted the Super Bowl in 2007, he knows that this season might be his last chance to win one and the Bears certainly have the pieces to do it.
Of course, for that to happen, they need a big year from their middle linebacker.
The 10 Most Important Bears were decided by 15 Score contributors who ranked their most important players from 1-10. The rankings were then compiled into a master list by assigning point values to the votes (a No. 1 vote is worth 10 points and a No. 10 vote is worth 1 point).
The panel: Mike Mulligan, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Jason Goff, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Jay Zawaski, Nick Shepkowski, David Schuster, Herb Lawrence, Craig Miller, Dennis Gambino and Brendan McCaffrey.
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