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Reading the Defense: Urlacher expected to play Sunday

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  • By NFL Network NFL.com
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Week 1 was not a good time to be wearing Pittsburgh's black & gold, as the Steel Curtain was ripped to shreds by Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. Who saw that coming? While many consider it a hiccup for a defense that has perennially been among the league's best, NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp sees it as symptom of a larger problem in the Steel City.

But it wasn't a total loss for fantasy owners -- Lawrence Timmons registered 12 tackles. James Harrison chipped in with nine of his own and LaMarr Woodley picked up the team's only sack. With the Seahawks on the horizon, it's a chance for the Steelers to collectively get healthy. So along those lines, let's check out a few IDP story lines for this week's "Reading the Defense".

IDP rankings
Week 1 top 5 scoring IDPs:

1. Brian Urlacher
2. D'Qwell Jackson
3. Sean Lee
4. Terrell Suggs
5. Ed Reed

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Four Downs

First down: Brian Urlacher was back on the practice field sooner than expected for the Bears and is expected to be ready for Sunday against the Saints. He had a typically Urlacher-ish performance in Week 1 with 10 tackles and an interception to rank as the top IDP scorer on NFL.com. The veteran middle linebacker is certain to be equally busy this week against the high-octane Saints. With Drew Brees' inclination to use the tight end, a couple of pass deflections is a definite possibility. After such an emotional week, though, it's difficult to say exactly how the veteran will perform.

Second down: 49ers safety Dashon Goldson is working his way back to practice after missing all of last week with a knee injury. After being limited on Wednesday, Goldson went through warm-ups on Thursday. The fifth-year pro has been amongst the team's leading tacklers each of the past two seasons and will have his hands full with the Cowboys' passing game if he is available to play this week.

Third down: For the Panthers to lose a defensive playmaker like Jon Beason is a worst-case scenario. Beason now gives way to Dan Connor, who has only played 16 games once in his previous three NFL seasons and has 87 career tackles (fewer than in any of Beason's single seasons). It's going to fall on outside linebackers James Anderson and Thomas Davis to pick up the slack -- no small task this week against the Packers.

Fourth down: Add Eric Berry to the list of key NFL players who didn't make it out of Week 1 unscathed. With the Chiefs losing their up-and-coming safety, it places a lot more pressure on the rest of the secondary. Veteran Jon McGraw is tabbed to start in Berry's place, but it's not possible for him to match the athleticism that will be missing from the lineup. Berry's absence means cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr can't be as aggressive on the outside, limiting their interception potential. It's especially bad news with Kansas City rolling into Detroit to face Matt Stafford and the Lions.

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