Lance Briggs could return vs. the Eagles on Sunday night

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 12/18/2013, 03:34pm

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The Bears’ defense is on the verge of getting a big boost for Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Linebacker Lance Briggs practiced Wednesday with the first-team defense — albeit in a limited fashion — and looks poised to return from a broken left shoulder.

“I’m optimistic he’ll play,” coach Marc Trestman said. “How much [playing time]? We’ll see how he feels. I’ll be able to better answer that question after Friday’s practice, and it may even go into Sunday. He did get some work [Wednesday] and I did talk him afterwards and he said he felt pretty good.”

Briggs hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder Oct. 20 against the Washington Redskins. He was originally on a four- to six-week timetable, but was just able to return to practice last week.

Briggs declined to speak to the media on Wednesday, promising to answer questions on Thursday. But Briggs did say on his Comcast SportsNet show Tuesday night that he anticipates being cleared to play on Friday.

If Briggs returns Sunday against the Eagles, his conditioning will be tested against their fast-paced offense.

“Certainly, he hasn’t played football in a long time,” Trestman said. “[But] Lance is a unique athlete. It would certainly be exciting to see him out on the field. And how much? Who knows. But it certainly would be good for our football team to have him out there and have him playing, and if he plays, we’ll see where he is at that point. I haven’t talked to any trainers about it. I haven’t talked to the doctors about it. We’ll do what’s best for him to make sure that we keep him safe out there. And we’ll go from there.”

For a defense that’s been making strides, getting Briggs back will be another confidence-builder.

“It would be huge,” defensive lineman Corey Wootton said. “I think Lance is definitely one of the best linebackers in the league. Before he got hurt, he was having an incredible season, so it will be great to have a guy like him, a perennial Pro Bowler, back. Hopefully, we can have him back.”

In other injury news, wide receiver Brandon Marshall was held out of practice Wednesday with soreness in his quadriceps and hamstring. But Trestman said he should be fine and expects him to return to practice on Thursday.