LAKE FOREST — The mother of Chicago Bears star Brian Urlacher died earlier this week, and the middle linebacker’s status for Sunday’s game in New Orleans is uncertain.

LAKE FOREST — The mother of Chicago Bears star Brian Urlacher died earlier this week, and the middle linebacker’s status for Sunday’s game in New Orleans is uncertain.

But most of his teammates were not focused on when he would return to the field when they heard the news Wednesday. Instead, they were worried about their teammate and friend.

“Family comes first, and we all know that,” defensive end Israel Idonije said.

Quarterback Jay Cutler added: “He’s the heart and soul of this organization and we all know he’s going through a tough time right now, and we’re going to respect his privacy. When he gets back, we’re here for him.”

Urlacher was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after he had 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown in one of his best games in years Sunday.

The linebacker corps, which also consists of Lance Briggs and Nick Roach, but not much more, is considered one of the thinnest groups on the team.

Undrafted rookie Dom DeCicco could be thrust into an important role for Sunday’s game.

“I’m ready,” DeCicco said from the locker room. “I’ll go at this week just like it was any other week. I won’t change things. We’ll just see what happens, but I’ll be ready.”

Briggs would not comment Wednesday, but Roach explained how the Bears will go about their business this week, with or without their leader.

“It’s not going to be easy, but we have to just work hard like we usually do, and wait and see what happens,” said Roach, who is practicing at both outside and inside linebacker this week.

“He’s the kind of guy you don’t want to go into battle without, but these are the kind of things you can’t control. If we have to go to New Orleans without him, we’ll fight just as hard for a win as we would with him.”

Kreutz on other side

The defensive line will go up against a Saints group that will include Olin Kreutz, who was left unsigned by the Bears during the brief offseason.

Kreutz, the Bears’ starting center for 12 seasons, quickly won over his new coaches and moved into the Saints starting center spot.

“Olin just loves playing football, and that’s very evident,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said in a telephone interview. “His passion for the game is contagious.”

Kreutz will likely line up in front of Henry Melton, who had a pair of sacks in his first game as a Bears starter last weekend.

Louis in if healthy

Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice wouldn’t go as far as to say right guard Lance Louis will play Sunday if he’s healthy enough, but he implied it.

“Who said (Spencer) played good? You? I didn’t ... Lance graded out as well on Sunday as he ever has since he’s been here,” Tice said. “He played a great game. We’re just going to have to wait and see, but Lance looked good out there.”

Tice also said Roberto Garza would stay at center even if Louis is not ready to go by Sunday. Chris Spencer and Edwin Williams are working at right guard in case Louis is out.

Injury update

Louis, safety Chris Harris (hamstring) and wide receiver Roy Williams (groin) did not practice Wednesday, though Louis’ injury is the only one head coach Lovie Smith appeared to be worried about. Harris and Williams both played Sunday, and are expected to play this weekend. Louis left in the first half and did not return.

RB Marion Barber and DE Corey Wootton (knee) have returned to full speed at practice, as has WR Sam Hurd (calf).

Reach Jay Taft at 815-987-1384 or jtaft@rrstar.com.