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updated: 12/11/2013 6:43 PM

Briggs still not ready to help Bears defense

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  • Out since Oct. 20, it doesn't appear that Bears linebacker Lance Briggs will return to action this weekend.

      Out since Oct. 20, it doesn't appear that Bears linebacker Lance Briggs will return to action this weekend.
    Associated Press

 
 

Coach Marc Trestman is "not optimistic" about the return of linebacker Lance Briggs this week.

"It's just the healing of the bone and where that is right now," Trestman said.

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Briggs has not practiced since suffering a fractured shoulder on Oct. 20. The rehabilitation process and healing of his injury was originally considered to take 6-8 weeks.

A Bears defense that is last in the league against the run, 28th in points allowed and 27th in total yards allowed could use reinforcements. But defensive coordinator Mel Tucker says his group can't afford to wait around for injured players to return.

"Our focus is not a matter of getting guys back," Tucker said. "It's a matter of getting it done with the guys that we have. And that's where the focus is going to be.

"We don't spend a whole heck of a lot of time talking about getting guys back because that's not the deal. The deal is: Who do we have right now, and getting those guys up and running as best we can and then preparing them to play. We feel confident that we can get that done."

Though they allowed 198 yards on the ground to the Dallas Cowboys, the Bears permitted just 328 total yards, 55 fewer than their average. But there's still much room for improvement. Through five weeks the Bears led the NFL with 55 points off takeaways, but they've forced just 1 turnover in the last three weeks.

"We have to take the ball away," Tucker said. "We have to get that done because turnover margin is huge."

There have been three games this season in which the Bears didn't get a takeaway, and two of them have come in the last three weeks.

Help wanted:

Eight-year veteran Jeremiah Ratliff played 44 snaps vs. the Cowboys, almost double the 23 he played in his 2013 debut eight days earlier against the Minnesota Vikings, and he had 1 of the Bears' 2 sacks.

Ratliff also led all Bears linemen with 3 tackles Monday night.

"It's just amazing to me to see him, because sometimes I forget he hasn't played in over a year," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "Definitely it's going to be a help for us in the run game and also in pass rushing, and (he) gets us some pocket collapse.

"He's a veteran guy and he's a good guy to learn from -- the way he works in practice, his attention to detail and things like that. As he plays more, he's going to have more of an impact for us."

The Bears are especially needy vs. the run. After allowing an average of just 102 yards on the ground in their first six games, they have permitted an average of 208 in the last seven games.

Lighting the lamp:

Special teams players credited cornerback Sherrick McManis with a hat trick Monday night. The Northwestern product had 3 tackles, including a monster hit on Dwayne Harris late in the first quarter after a 15-yard return from the one-yard line.

"That was a huge key because we knew that the ball wasn't going to fly, especially going that direction (north to south)," special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "The wind was just ridiculous, and the cold was not allowing the ball to go any place. So that was a big play for us.

"Obviously, he's been one of the better guys for us this year. But he really had his best game, overall throughout that game."

McManis is second with 12 special teams tackles, trailing only Blake Costanzo, who has 15, including 2 against the Cowboys.

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