After suffering a slight fracture in his shoulder during the Week 7 contest against the Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs was given a 4-6 week timetable for return. That was on October 21. We are now nearly two full months from the initial injury and the Bears still haven't officially cleared Briggs to play – although it appears likely he'll return this week.
"Initially, yeah, [the recovery] was longer [than expected]," Briggs said today. "And then you get to the point where you get tested and your strength and everything isn't where it's supposed to be, or my bone is not healing the way it's supposed to."
Things looked so bad during early part of the recovery, there was apparently some discussion about shutting him down for the rest of the season.
"There was some talk of going on IR," said Briggs, "but that didn't happen, and I'm here now. Now, I just want to play football."
For a player who missed just four total games his first 10 years in the NFL, Briggs said the recent time off was difficult.
"It's rough. I sat at home and I thought for a long time," he said. "Then I got up and I went and got another cookie, and then I came back and sat down and thought some longer. There's a lot of thinking, a lot of coaching, a lot of being around guys and trying to help motivate and just moving around. That's it."
Fortunately for the Bears, Briggs practiced the last two days in a limited capacity. Coach Marc Trestman said he's optimistic Briggs will play Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. The team will announce his official designation tomorrow after medical personnel give Briggs one final examination.
"We'll find out soon. As soon as the doctors clear me," Briggs said.
How much Briggs will play though, after sitting out two months, is still up for debate. Conditioning could be an issue for the 33-year-old, particularly against Philadelphia's up-tempo offense.
"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," said Briggs. "It's going to be strap it on and see what happens."
Briggs would be a huge boost for Chicago's run defense, which dropped from 12th in the league down to 32nd in his absence.
"He's just very experienced and steps right in and knows what to do," coordinator Mel Tucker said. "It's good to have him back out there working a little bit. He's a good player. The more good players you have playing, the better chance you have. We'll see. We'll take it day to day and see how it goes."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.