Bears LB Urlacher returns to practice

Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher returned to the team on Thursday, three days after his mother died suddenly at her home in Texas.

Urlacher had left the team to be with his family, saying in a statement Wednesday that his priority was to be with his family as they mourned the death of his mother, Lavoyda Lenard, on Monday and made arrangements for her funeral.

Seeing him back on the practice field Thursday, Urlacher's teammates continued to offer their support. The linebacker is expected to play Sunday in New Orleans.

"I'm glad he's back. It's a tough decision," said fellow linebacker Lance Briggs. "As a friend you support your friend. Everyone in the country right now is sending out their condolences and their prayers to him and his family."

"I've always admired him, especially after meeting him and getting to spend time with him," Briggs said. "And that admiration just grows and grows."

Urlacher is coming off a dominant performance in Chicago's season-opening 30-12 win over Atlanta. He had 10 tackles, an interception and a 12-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and was named the NFC's top defensive player of the week.

Bears running back Marion Barber missed practice Thursday because of a calf injury, while Briggs was back after limited participation Wednesday because of a knee injury.