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LB Lance Briggs’ return was as bad as it looked

Chicago Bears v ArizonCardinals

Chicago Bears v Arizona Cardinals

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Updated: January 25, 2014 6:25AM

Not even film review could help Lance Briggs on Monday.

The seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker usually can count on the coaches’ review of the game film to pump up his tackle totals. For example, against the Panthers last season, Briggs and Brian
Urlacher were credited with seven
tackles in press-box stats but ended up with 13 and 12, respectively. It was a time-honored tradition at Halas Hall.

But, like the Bears’ performance against the Eagles as a whole, the game film only confirmed what the naked eye saw in a 54-11 loss Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Playing for the first time in nine weeks since suffering a fractured left shoulder, Briggs made little impact — one assisted tackle and a
minus-4.3 rating by Pro Football Focus. It was Briggs’ lowest tackle total in a full game in his
11-year career and his lowest rating since PFF’s inception in 2008.

While the Bears could have used more production from Briggs, they were encouraged he was able to play 59 of their 65 defensive snaps after missing seven games. And, as defensive coordinator Mel Tucker noted, he didn’t get hurt.

‘‘He came out of the game clean,’’ Tucker said. ‘‘It was a good outing for him the first game back. As he continues to get more practices under his belt, I think he’ll continue to improve and play better.’’

Conditioning was a concern with Briggs’ return. Never a workout warrior, Briggs appeared to gain weight during his time away from practice. Whether it was a factor against the Eagles, it’s pretty clear Briggs will have to work himself into football shape.

‘‘I didn’t see his conditioning to be an issue relative to how long he’s been out,’’ Tucker said. ‘‘So with [59] plays and the intensity with which he plays, that’s pretty much what we expected, and he didn’t disappoint us.’’

As Briggs improves, the Bears hope his presence will help rookie
middle linebacker Jon Bostic, who has struggled to make progress with Briggs out. Bostic had eight tackles, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss against the Eagles.

‘‘It was a mixed bag for [Bostic],’’ Tucker said. ‘‘He had some good plays. He also had some plays that we wish he had back, and we’ve got to coach him through and we’ve got to improve. But we all benefit from having Lance back.’’


Twitter: @MarkPotash

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