While up in Green Bay the Packers remained hopeful — but not altogether sure — they’ll have injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers back this weekend, the Bears were going through the same spectrum of emotions with linebacker Lance Briggs, arguably as important to the Bears’ defense at this point as Rodgers is to the Packers’ offense.
Briggs, out for the last seven games since fracturing his shoulder in the Oct. 20 game at Washington, practiced with the No. 1 defense on Wednesday. But he, like Rodgers, was limited and coaches were not 100-percent sure Briggs would be ready for Philadelphia on Sunday night.
“It’s still day to day,” coach Marc Trestman said. “I’m optimistic he’ll play. How much? We’ll see how he feels. I’ll be able to better answer that question after Friday’s practice and it may even go into Sunday. He did get some work today and I did talk him afterwards and he said he felt pretty good, so we’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
Briggs has been doing some work in recent practices but practice-fit is not game-fit and Briggs may be tested by a Philadelphia offense that runs plays at the NFL’s fastest rate.
“He looks like Lance,” was all coordinator Mel Tucker would say, which for a struggling Bears defense is a lot. “He’s moving around well. He’s got good pep in his step. He’s excited to be back out there working with the guys. He’s just very experienced and steps right in and knows what to do. He plays fast. It’s good to have him back out there working a little bit.”
The significance of Briggs is difficult to overstate. The Bears were allowing 117.3 rushing yards per game when he was injured; they are giving up 152.4 currently.