Comments by Bears higher-up’s early this offseason suggested that linebacker Jonathan Bostic, the team’s No. 2 draft choice in the 2013 draft, will ultimately be Lance Briggs’ successor at the high-mobility job of weakside linebacker.
That prospect may be coming sooner rather than later, at least on an interim, developmental basis.
Briggs tried to come back from a torn shoulder ligament late last season and was clearly not fully recovered. He still isn’t, and that suggests implications for the offseason, preseason and development of Bostic, who may end up ticketed for weakside linebacker sooner than when Briggs is officially done.
“[The shoulder] is a lot better,” Briggs said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet's Pat Boyle on Wednesday. “I’ve got a lot of respect for guys that have torn ligaments in their shoulders or any parts of their bodies and rehabbed their way back.
“It’s an everyday deal; some days I feel great, other days I feel sore in my shoulder, but strength-wide, I’m getting stronger, using stronger weights than when the season was just over. For me it’s just taking steps in the right direction.
“No, I won’t need any surgery, not at all. Lot of shoulder straps, ‘stim,’ ice, constant massages, pampering, things of that nature will help the recovery.”
What kind of load Briggs will be assigned through minicamps, training camp and preseason are still months from being determined. But if Briggs’ comeback from a shoulder ligament injury mirrors that of Brian Urlacher’s from a knee ligament in the 2012 offseason, Bostic's time at weakside linebacker may be at hand.
Bostic, who played middle linebacker when D.J. Williams was down with a calf injury through most of camp, was pressed into duty at middle linebacker last year when Williams was lost for the season in the Oct. 10 game against the Giants with a torn pectoral muscle. As Briggs finishes his career, whether this year or next, the option of Bostic moving to an outside-linebacker spot is there.
“Where Jon has struggled this year is in terms of being in the middle is the instantaneous in terms of read and react and searching through blocks in flow,” GM Phil Emery said. “He can improve dramatically in that going into his second season. I just said that from his skill set, some day — that may not be this year, it may be in the future — might be best on the outside to take advantage of the skill sets that he has.”