Briggs’ conditioning could be challenged

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Lance Briggs understands the challenge he would be facing.

The Chicago Bears visit Philadelphia this weekend, and the seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker could be returning against a fast-paced offense.

“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 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 with a win and some help. If not, they’ll finish with a win-or-go-home game against Green Bay at Soldier Field on Dec. 29.

Briggs’ return would easy 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 it also looks like they’re getting their best defensive player back.

That can’t hurt.

For Briggs, the past two months haven’t been easy. The Bears initially thought he would miss about six weeks, but the recovery has taken longer, and there was talk at one point of going on injured reserve, ending his season.

“I’m here now,” he said. “I just want to play football.”

Briggs had never missed more than two games in a season, and he acknowledged he felt a bit helpless. He couldn’t run or work out for a while. All he could do is heal and try to stay positive.

“I guess the one positive was when you go into the training room at that time, it was like being in the MASH unit,” Briggs said. “There’s so many other guys that were in there, we were just all sharing jokes and stuff. That helped lift spirits.”

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