Posted December 13, 2013 on AP on Fox
A struggling Chicago Bears defense will wait at least one more week to get seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs back after fracturing his left shoulder. Bears coach Marc Trestman on Friday ruled Briggs out for Sunday's game at Cleveland, but added chances look better for a return in the Dec. 22 game at Philadelphia. ''I'd be optimistic, yes, I'd be much more optimistic that that could happen,'' he said. ''He (Briggs) got more work today and we'll see how he is the first of the week, but it raises our optimism certainly.'' Briggs practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, the first he's practiced since suffering the injury Oct. 20 at Washington. Chicago's run defense has suffered since Briggs' injury. In the last seven games, Chicago is allowing an average of 204.1 yards rushing. In the six games before Briggs' injury, the Bears allowed 102 yards. The Bears rank last in the NFL in run defense at 157 yards a game, although there are other injuries besides Briggs' that have influenced their production. Cornerback Charles Tillman suffered a regular season-ending torn triceps, defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins sustained torn anterior cruciate ligaments and middle linebacker D.J. Williams suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle. Losing Briggs hurt the team in several ways, including the run game. ''He gives you margin for error and players that can win one-on-one pretty much do that,'' defensive tackle Mel Tucker said. ''He can do his job and then once he's secured his job, he can help out. It gives you more margin in your defense overall when you have playmakers like that. ''He's a physical presence. He brings a lot of confidence to the group. And he's done a great job since he's been out of working with the younger players in the practice field, in the meetings, just showing those guys what he sees and telling those guys what he knows and help them take it to the game.'' Rutgers rookie Khaseem Greene has been playing in Briggs' place and will start Sunday. ''I think he's progressing,'' Tucker said of Greene. ''He's playing more and he's seeing more plays live and he's getting closer and closer to making more plays. And so he does show up in the games and he does make some plays. ''There are more plays that he can make and we feel like he'll make those plays when presented those opportunities. But it's a work in progress. We have to continue to learn from our mistakes.'' Briggs is the only injury concern facing the Bears in Sunday's game. They had announced Thursday that Jay Cutler would return from a high ankle sprain and replace Josh McCown at quarterback.
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