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Thursday, December 19, 2013
Briggs practices, still not cleared to play

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs continued to take first-team repetitions in practice Thursday, but neither he nor coach Marc Trestman shed any light on the veteran's potential availability for Sunday's game at Philadelphia.

"We'll find out," Briggs said. "We'll find out soon; as soon as the doctors clear me."

Sidelined for the past eight weeks with a shoulder fracture suffered Oct. 20 at Washington, Briggs worked in a limited capacity both Wednesday and Thursday. Trestman said at this point he "can't answer" whether Briggs will be cleared on time to face the Eagles.

"I can tell you he's going to practice tomorrow again, and it looks like we're moving the right direction," Trestman said. "I stand by being optimistic. You've always got to be cautiously optimistic because you don't know what the next day is going to bring. Based on the first two days of practice, we're really hopeful he'll be able to play on Sunday night."

Given Briggs' long layoff, it's reasonable to question how much he'll be able to contribute against Philadelphia's fast-paced offense. In addition to his work Wednesday and Thursday, Briggs took repetitions a week prior in an attempt to work himself back into cardiovascular shape.

If cleared to play, Briggs sees Sunday as being a situation where he's going to "strap it on and see what happens."

"I've been playing football for a long time and it just so happens that we're going against a team that runs 80 plays a game offensively so that'll be interesting."

Can Briggs make a difference after so much time away?

"I don't know," Briggs said. "I like to think I'm a guy who's going to get in his gap and when the opportunity's there, try to make it. Hopefully I can help the team. I don't want to get out there and hurt us. But at this point right now, these last couple games, the defense has been playing better and better. We reached a lot of goals defensively this last game -- held them to 17 points, had takeaways, and held them in check rushing the ball. That's something to continue to build on."

For Briggs, the most challenging aspect of being out of the lineup is "just feeling helpless, not being able to do anything: not able to run, not able to lift, not able to do anything, just heal," he said, "Let your body heal itself and that's been kind of tough."

Even if Briggs is ready to come back and play, Trestman isn't sure how much the linebacker will be able to contribute in terms of the number of snaps. Chicago goes into Sunday's matchup ranked No. 32 against the run, while Philadelphia fields the NFL's top-ranked rushing attack (152.9 yards per game), led by running back LeSean McCoy.

"I think that if Lance has a chance to play, I think that lifts our football team," Trestman said. "How much he'll play? I don't know. But the type of player he is, whatever that might be, I think that lifts our football team to some degree on Sunday night. That can only be a good thing for our football team if he is cleared to play and he has the opportunity to play whatever amount of snaps that he's able to play."