Lance Briggs likely to miss his seventh game in a row
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter December 11, 2013 10:54PM
This indeed is a different era for the Bears — too many good quarterbacks and not enough good linebackers.
While the Bears appear close to having Jay Cutler replace Josh McCown — the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week — against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs is likely to miss his seventh consecutive game with a fractured shoulder.
Coach Marc Trestman held out some hope that Briggs could play against the Browns, but not much. Briggs still hasn’t returned to practice since suffering the injury Oct. 20 against the Redskins. Trestman said Briggs still is waiting for the fracture to heal.
‘‘I’m not optimistic, but we’ll know a little bit more [Thursday],’’ Trestman said. ‘‘He did some running last week. Will that be upgraded to some limited work in practice? We’ll see what the trainers want to do and what he wants to do [Thursday].’’
The Bears need Briggs more than they need Cutler. The Bears have allowed an average of 204 rushing yards in the six games Briggs has missed to drop from 24th to 32nd in the NFL. It’s unlikely he would be a cure-all. But Briggs not only would be an upgrade over rookie Khaseem Greene, but it’s likely he also would make rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic more effective.
‘‘Shoot, where do you start?’’ defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said when asked about Briggs’ impact. ‘‘Lance is a playmaker in the run game and the passing game. It’s not just the intangibles he brings in terms of leadership and experience and confidence. But he can actually make plays.’’
Though the Bears are coming off a 45-28 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, the defense still allowed six yards per play (their season average, which is 30th in the NFL) and 198 rushing yards on 28 carries.
‘‘Our focus is not [on] getting guys back. It’s a matter of getting it done with the guys we have,’’ Tucker said. ‘‘Shoring up our run defense — getting more guys to the ball, shedding blocks, tackling better will help us improve as an overall defense, and that’s what we have to do with the guys that we have.’’