- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – When the Chicago Bears severed ties with future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, it thrust seven-time Pro Bowl weak side linebacker Lance Briggs into a more vocal role. For the first time since college, Briggs is responsible for calling the defense on the play, a task Urlacher handled with relative ease for the last 13 years.
“I accept it,” Briggs said of the new responsibility. “I was real comfortable in my role before. Very comfortable. Now I’m getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
It got a tad uncomfortable for Briggs during Friday’s practice when the veteran messed up the defensive call from the sidelines and had to improvise on the fly.
“I got the play into my ear and the huddle had already broken,” Briggs said. “I didn’t hear the call. So I just called the play, a random play, and everybody looked at me a puzzled look. So I had to eat it. I had to eat that one. Everyone was going to make fun of me and that’s fine. You move on.
“The biggest adjustment is making sure you know ... recognizing every alignment, making all the checks. The biggest adjustment is making sure that it’s my job to get everybody aligned and ready to play.”
If key veterans such as Briggs can stay healthy, the Bears defense figures to be very good again in 2013, even without Urlacher and former coaches Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli. While it might be difficult for the Bears to match last year’s total of nine defensive scores and 44 takeaways, there are still five former Pro Bowlers on the defense. That talent level should ease the loss of Smith, who’s departure is not expected to cast a negative shadow over the season, according to Briggs.
“The thing about it is this: It’s a new year,” Briggs said. “We have an opportunity to win a championship. Coach Trestman is our coach so he’s the man who’s going to lead us. The values and things Lovie Smith instilled in us will always be with us. We will carry that over. Lovie will live through us. Brian Urlacher, Israel Idonije, Mike Brown, all those guys will continue to live through us.
“But right now our focus is to get ready for this championship year.”