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.