Stop the hype

The Bears have their first personnel controversy of the young season. <!--Default NodeId For Lance Briggs is 738193,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:738193]>Lance Briggs</A> has been all over the field in two preseason games, but at this point <!--Default NodeId For Bryan Knight is 722193,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:722193]>Bryan Knight</A> is still the starting strong-side linebacker.

Briggs started against Denver, because Knight sat out with a knee injury. The third-round pick led the team in tackles with nine, blocked a field goal and had a sack. Now, the Bears are downplaying the fact that Briggs worked with the first team Monday, while Knight worked with the second unit after returning to practice for the first time in more than a week.

"I expect him to start in Arizona, yeah," head coach Dick Jauron said of Knight. "We'll find out tomorrow, we're going to practice in pads. We anticipate he'll be fine."

Suddenly, Knight's knee is feeling better after Briggs had a great game. Knight is the same player that traveled to New York for a second opinion less than a week ago.

"It felt real good out here. I mean, it's no biggee," Knight said following Monday's practice.

According to Jauron, Knight worked with the second unit to ease him back on the field as his knee heals.

The problem with that logic is the team didn't practice in pads Monday. If he can't handle that, then how can he be expected to play, let alone start?

Briggs isn't a finished product, but he has a knack for making big plays. The former Arizona product had three tackles on the Broncos' first drive, then later sacked Jake Plummer for a 2-yard loss. He blocked a 26-yard field goal attempt by Jason Elam and nearly got a hand on a punt in the preseason opener. A game he graded out at a 66, the lowest of the linebackers. His effort against the Broncos earned him a score of 74, because the rookie lacks consistency.

"Lance Briggs performed quite well, but he did some things poorly as if often the case with rookies," said head coach Dick Jauron. "He needs to learn about the game at this level. His endurance could be improved and he needs to stay on top of every detail that is going on around him. Professional football is all in t he details. That's often the difference between victory and defeat."

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache had a few choice words for Briggs during Monday's practice and is notorious for not playing rookies. The only rookie that started under Blache's tenure with the Bears is Mike Brown.

"I don't like them and I don't trust them," Blache said of first year pros. "This kid is no Mike Brown, lets not get carried away. I'm not as high on this guy as you guys (reporters) are."

Knight hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire since being named the starter during the offseason. The current coaching staff has been reluctant to make changes in even the most obvious of situations.

Brian Urlacher sat the first two games of his rookie campaign, before going on to earn a Pro Bowl berth.

Anthony Thomas had to rush for a 188 yards in a backup role before he earned his first start in his rookie campaign. He finished with a team rookie record of 1,183 yards on the ground.

David Terrell continues to be used as the third receiver, while Dez White has been granted a starting role for minimal production.

Now, Briggs is in a similar situation. A rookie that needs more experience is bound to make mistakes, but as long as he's making big plays it's worth the risk.


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