Briggs' conditioning could be challenged

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm •  Published: December 19, 2013

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — For Lance Briggs, it was a helpless feeling.

He couldn't run or lift weights for a while let alone suit up for the Chicago Bears as he tried to work his way back from a shoulder injury. All he could do is let it heal.

"That's been kind of tough," he said.

This could be, too.

The seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker could be making his return against the Eagles and their fast-paced offense when the Bears visit Philadelphia on Sunday. And he acknowledged his conditioning could be tested.

"It's going to be, 'Strap it on and see what happens,'" Briggs said. "I've been playing football for a long time and it just so happens that we're going against a team that runs 80 plays a game offensively so that'll be interesting."

He said he still needs to be cleared medically, but he appears to be on track to play after missing the past seven games because of a small fracture in his left shoulder. Briggs was injured in a loss at Washington on Oct. 20 and has been limited in practice since he returned last week.

"I can tell you that he's going to practice tomorrow again and it looks like we're moving in the right direction," coach Marc Trestman said. "I stand by being optimistic. You've always got to be cautiously optimistic because you don't know what the next day is going to bring, but based on the first two days of practice, we're really hopeful that he'll be able to play on Sunday night."

Getting Briggs back would obviously be a huge boost for the Bears as they try to lock up the NFC North and get back to the playoffs after missing out five of the previous six years under former coach Lovie Smith.

They lead the division at 8-6, with Green Bay (7-6-1) and Detroit (7-7) trying to stay in the race, and Chicago could lock it up this week with a win and some help. Otherwise, they will be fighting for a playoff spot when they close out the season with a home game against the Packers next week.

Briggs' return would ease some of the load on a defense that's been shredded by injuries and ranks last against the run. They're staring at the league's leading rusher in LeSean McCoy, but they could also be getting their best defensive player back.

That can't hurt.

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