Briggs finally sheds some light on his offseason standoff with Angelo
Pro-Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs is still yet to receive the lucrative contract extension he dearly wants, so there was reason for Bears fans to worry that he might go out of his way to rack up personal statistics this season in lieu of team success to help drive up his free-agent price to potential bidders. That, however, has not been the case as Briggs continues to be nothing short of brilliant on the weak side and registered a career-high 19 tackles last Sunday evening in Green Bay. He currently leads the team in both solo tackles and total tackles even though he was inactive in Week 4 with a sore hamstring, which means GM Jerry Angelo must think twice about inking his franchise player for the foreseeable future since the money he had originally set aside for QB Rex Grossman most likely won't be necessary.
LB Lance Briggs
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images
Briggs answered questions from the media about his offseason holdout, his contract situation, and his ugly back-and-forth with Bears brass for the first time Wednesday, and he believes nothing that happened in the past has anything to do with his sensational play so far in 2007.
"The stuff that happened in the offseason was the offseason," Briggs said Wednesday before practice at Halas Hall. "That stuff was business. It's business. And regardless of how much you love the sport and how much you enjoy being on the field and playing, when you step off that field, you have to remember that this is a business."
Briggs maintained the entire offseason that he would never play another down for the Bears organization, but now he says he would be open to the idea of signing on the dotted line and finishing his career in the Windy City.
"I'd love to be here," he said. "I've always wanted to be here. Regardless of what I've said, I've always wanted to be here. Unfortunately, that was something that was decided over the offseason – that I wasn't in the long-term plans. But, like I said, that stuff is in the past."
Sharper not losing any sleep over Clark-and-Olsen combination
The Minnesota Vikings are currently ranked No. 1 in the NFL defending the run with just 62 yards allowed per game on the ground, but the pass defense has not been quite as impressive and surrenders 266.8 yards per game through the air – 30th in the league. The Bears have improved greatly throwing the football since benching Grossman in favor of Brian Griese, and a big reason why is the play of their one-two punch at the tight end position. Veteran Desmond Clark enjoyed the most productive season of his career in 2006 and is once again proving to be effective this year, and rookie Greg Olsen has come on strong since missing the start of the campaign with a knee sprain and scored the first touchdown of his pro career against the Packers in Week 5.
S Darren Sharper
Ed Zurga/AP Images
It's unusual for an offense to feature two tight ends that can do damage in the passing attack at the same time, and Minnesota safety Darren Sharper feels that can give the offense an advantage if utilized properly.
"It's pretty much all on matchups," Sharper said via conference call Wednesday at Halas Hall. "If you have a tight end that can catch the ball well, you try to get him matched up on a linebacker and get him in space and try to do some things with him. And a lot of time, they're safety valves in the passing game because they do a lot of shorter routes [and] go over the ball. And a lot times in the scheme that we run – and the scheme that Chicago runs also – you want to play like an umbrella. So you play them deep to short. So a lot of times those shorter areas are open, and that's where the tight ends work around the ball and make a lot of their hay. So you want to get them in matchups, and also they become safety valves in the passing game – a lot of checkdowns and things of that nature."
Clark and Olsen combined for 119 receiving yards and a pair of TDs this past Sunday night in a victory at Green Bay, but Sharper didn't appear to be overly impressed and is concentrating his efforts on other areas.
"I'm never concerned about a tight end," he said.
For the Bears, WR Bernard Berrian (toe), DT Tommie Harris (knee), OT John Tait (ankle), CB Charles Tillman (ankle), CB Nathan Vasher (groin), and DT Darwin Walker (knee) were all held out of practice Wednesday. OG Ruben Brown (shoulder) was only able to participate on a limited basis.
John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.