(Charles Rex Arbogast / AP)

It isn’t easy to prepare for a game against Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears defense under the best of circumstances.

For the New Orleans Saints, their preparation is complicated by the fact that Urlacher has been with his family since learning of his mother’s death. He returned to the team today and, although reports out of Chicago indicate that Urlacher “plans on playing” Sunday in New Orleans, the Saints can’t count on that.

“You have to prepare as if he's going to play,” quarterback Drew Brees said (via Chicago Sun-Times). “If they don't, then you change gears.”

Brees’ mother, Mina, died in August 2009. “It was a sudden thing. Very unexpected,” Brees said. “So I left training camp immediately, to be with my brother and my family. On two different occasions, I had to leave for a period of time, to be with family and to go to her memorial service and help plan that.”

If Urlacher, called “the heart and soul of this team” by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, is anything like Brees, he’ll probably play Sunday. “I can tell you this. For me, as hard as that was and as much as I needed to be with my family at that time, the guys in the locker room — your teammates — are also a part of your family, too,” he said. “So a big part of my healing was coming back and being with the guys in the locker room and obviously getting back to playing football because I know that's what she loved watching me do.”