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Lance Briggs is ‘hopeful’ that a raise will happen

Updated: January 31, 2012 8:25AM

At the end of his news ­conference, linebacker Lance Briggs acted coy when asked if the team received his message given his strong play after requesting a pay raise before the season.

Initially, Briggs pretended not to clearly understand the ­question, although he nearly repeated it verbatim.

“Do I hope the Bears get the message going into the offseason?” Briggs asked. “I’m going to leave that as no comment.”

Later, though, Briggs made it clear to the Sun-Times that he desires a pay raise. Under the six-year, $36 million extension he signed in 2008, Briggs is scheduled to make $4 million in 2012 and $6.5 million 2013.

“Hopeful. That’s about all I can say,” Briggs said. “We’ve got one more game, and then I’m going to get ready for some vacation time and get some rest. Heal the body.”

Asked if he would ask for his release or a trade if the Bears don’t fulfill his request, Briggs diplomatically said, “I’m just hopeful.”

Briggs, 31, leads the Bears with 140 tackles and is tied for the team lead with eight tackles for loss. He also has an interception, has broken up three passes and forced two fumbles.

He was named to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl on Tuesday.

Urlacher dinged

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who injured his knee against the Packers but finished the game, is getting better but did not practice again Thursday. Coach Lovie Smith expects him to play.

‘‘I don’t think it’s that bad,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We need everybody and Brian realizes that, so I ­assume he’ll be ready to go.’’

Smith said strong-side linebacker Nick Roach or rookie Dom DeCicco would replace Urlacher if the eight-time Pro Bowl player can’t go.

Tight end Kellen Davis (illness) did not practice. Running back Marion Barber (calf) was limited. Kahlil Bell is expected to start, with rookie Armando Allen ­getting spot duty as he did against the Packers (11 carries, 40 yards).

Williams vs. Williams

Left guard Edwin Williams, who has started the last six games after Chris Williams suffered a season-ending dislocated wrist, figures to have earned a shot at the job full time next season.

‘‘He’s played winning football for us … a lot more time than he hasn’t,’’ offensive line coach Mike Tice said. ‘‘He’s certainly thrown his hat into the mix, at minimum.’’

The Bears have averaged 141 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry in Edwin ­Williams’ six starts — even with Matt Forte rushing for just 128 of his 997 yards. The Bears averaged 120 rushing yards and 4.5 per carry in Chris Williams’ nine starts.

Painful memory

The last time Josh McCown faced the Vikings, on Dec. 28, 2003, he threw two touchdown passes in the final 1:54, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Poole as time expired, to win 18-17, costing Tice’s Vikings a division title and playoff berth.

‘‘I cried for two weeks,’’ Tice said.

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