Linebacker Lance Briggs was limited in Wednesday's practice, tempering enthusiasm somewhat for his expected return for the Bears' game Sunday night against the Eagles.
The seven-time Pro Bowler has missed the previous seven games since suffering a fractured shoulder on Oct. 20. Briggs took his Wednesday reps with the first team, but it's likely his snaps will be limited if he plays.
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"I'm optimistic he'll play," coach Marc Trestman said. "How much? We'll see how he feels. I'll be able to better answer that question after Friday's practice and it may even go into Sunday. I did talk him afterwards (Wednesday), and he said he felt pretty good."
In Briggs' absence, veteran strongside linebacker James Anderson has taken over the defensive play-calling duties, and Trestman said he's not sure who will handle that chore Sunday, but that it will be finalized later in the week.
It remains to be seen how well Briggs can keep up with the frenzied tempo of the Eagles' offense after a two-month absence, but defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is looking forward to the boost he could provide.
"He looks like Lance," Tucker said after practice. "He's moving around well. He's got good pep in his step. He's excited to be back out there working with the guys. He's just very experienced and steps right in and knows what to do. He plays fast. It's good to have him back out there working a little bit."
Love the night life:
The Bears are 4-0 in night games this season, defeating the Giants and Cowboys at home and the Steelers and Packers on the road.
They have averaged 35 points per game in prime time and have never scored fewer than 27.
Trestman cut Wednesday's indoor practice short, citing some lingering soreness from Sunday.
"We're not practicing as long, so you've got to invest in other ways to maintain your edge to come out and play on Sunday night," he said. "You can use prime-time (success) to build on, and we have because we've played well.
"But on the other side of it, the reason to remind the guys about it is to remind them how hard they worked on a daily basis to get themselves ready to play and build their edge for the game."
Since 2004, the Bears have scored 40 defensive touchdowns -- 31 on interceptions and 9 on fumbles.
The Bears are 29-5 (.853) when they score a defensive touchdown during that time, including 26-2 (.929) since 2005. They have won 12 straight when scoring a defensive TD.
Shuffling the deck:
Offensive tackle Joe Long was signed to a two-year contract off the Steelers' practice squad, where he had spent the first 15 weeks of the season.
The 6-foot-5, 304-pound Long entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Rams in 2012 out of Wayne State (Mich.), where he started all 49 games at left tackle earning the Gene Upshaw Award as the top Division-II lineman in 2011. Long took the spot on the roster created when safety Sean Cattouse was waived Tuesday.