LAKE FOREST, Ill. - The Chicago Bears defense, traditionally the team's strength but this year a liability, could see the return of star outside linebacker Lance Briggs in Sunday night's game against the Eagles.
Briggs has not played since Oct. 20 when he broke a bone in his left shoulder in a game at Washington, but he has been getting closer to returning every week.
"Lance will practice this week," Chicago coach Marc Trestman said Monday. "It is going to be day-to-day. I'm reasonably optimistic, but it is going to be through the three days of practice before a decision is made."
Trestman said he would decide Friday about Briggs, who has missed significant action for the first time in his 11-season career.
Chicago is hoping Briggs can return to assist a dilapidated rushing defense that has been one of the NFL's worst in 2013, allowing just over 152 yards a game. Besides Briggs, Chicago has lost five other defensive players to injury since the start of training camp.
Trestman ruled out cornerback Charles Tillman for the season on Monday with a torn triceps. Tillman's absence has not been as much of a problem for Chicago because cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Zack Bowman have played well.
Bowman had two interceptions in Sunday's 38-31 win over the Browns, including one that he ran back for a touchdown. Jennings will likely have the task of trying to contain DeSean Jackson on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
But Chicago's win in Cleveland may have provided a ray of hope for the Bears defense: It allowed 93 rushing yards, marking the first time in six games that that unit kept an opponent below 100. However, the Eagles and LeSean McCoy are going to present a stiffer challenge than Cleveland.
"I know they are a very talented team," Trestman said. "They have great athletes, especially on the offensive side of the ball."
Chicago's offense, which could establish a team record for total points, is paced by wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in addition to running back Matt Forte. After a shaky first half Sunday, quarterback Jay Cutler turned in a solid performance. Cutler had missed the previous four games with a high left ankle sprain.
Both teams are fighting for playoff spots, and that was on the mind of Bears offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod.
"They are an explosive team," Bushrod said. "They are in the hunt and they are going to be hungry. I know the type of players they have on defense and it is going to be a challenge."