Bears LB Lance Briggs gets medical clearance
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter December 20, 2013 8:58PM
Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears
Updated: January 22, 2014 6:13AM
Linebacker Lance Briggs, who has missed the last seven games with a fractured left shoulder, has been cleared by team medical personnel to play Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But coach Marc Trestman could not say whether Briggs would start or even play. Briggs had full participation in the limited practice Friday at the Walter Payton Center and officially is listed as questionable.
‘‘I’m very optimistic,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘He’ll work out before the game, and we’ll see where he’s at. But I wouldn’t want to say he’s going to play [or] he’s going to start. But as we began the week fully optimistic, we’re even more so now since he’s been cleared by the doctors.’’
Assuming Briggs plays, Trestman is looking forward to what he can bring to the Bears’ defense.
‘‘There may be some rust; there may not be,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘That’s not the important thing. The important thing is he’s going to impact our team in the huddle. He’s a fiery leader, a great leader. And he’s excited to play football again.
‘‘Hopefully, it’ll work out where he can get some reps. How many? I don’t know. But if he’s up and ready to go, he’ll certainly play, and we’ll take it from there. We have no expectations.’’
Briggs was in the Bears’ locker room after practice, but he declined to address his status.
Besides Briggs, the only players on the Bears’ injury report were wide receivers Brandon Marshall (hamstring) and Earl Bennett (non-injury-related), who are probable.
The Bears and Eagles are two of the few teams in the NFL to start the same five offensive linemen in every game. In fact, the Bears’ starting unit of left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson, center Roberto Garza, right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills has played all 893 offensive snaps.
Last year, only left tackle J’Marcus Webb and Garza played every game. The Bears changed starters eight times.
‘‘Anytime you can play the same five guys for this amount of time, it’s going to help,’’ offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. ‘‘Especially when they’re rookies [Long and Mills], and they’re trying to get used to playing with each other and just playing in general.’’
Bostic will benefit
Briggs’ anticipated return figures to benefit rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic, who has started eight games but only one next to Briggs. Bostic had eight tackles, including one for a loss against the Browns last week.
‘‘I’m getting more comfortable,’’ Bostic said. ‘‘I’m learning more about this defense. I’m learning things every day from the guys I have around me, not just the linebackers but the defensive linemen. . . . I’m learning stuff from everybody. But I’ve still got a long way to go.’’