By Adam Hoge-
A panel of 14 Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 players in terms of how important they will be in determining the success or failure of the 2013 Chicago Bears. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will unveil one of the 10 most important Bears each weekday as we countdown to training camp.
(CBS) For 10 seasons, Lance Briggs has been a focal point of the Bears’ defense.
But for the first time in his career, Briggs will be playing a full season without Brian Urlacher on his side. Some wonder if he’ll be the same player without Urlacher, but that concern is severely overblown considering Briggs has already played 25 games in his career without Urlacher and done just fine. He was a Pro Bowler in 2009 when Urlacher missed 15 games.
Of greater concern is Briggs adapting to his new permanent role of calling out plays and being the leader of the defense. There’s little doubt he can handle the job, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Two veterans (D.J. Williams and James Anderson) and two rookies (Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene) will compete for the two starting linebacker jobs next to Briggs and all four of them are newcomers. It will help that new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is retaining the same defense the Bears used under Lovie Smith, but there are still new wrinkles that Briggs will have to learn. Communication will be key and it’s crucial the weak side linebacker accepts his new role and runs with it.
And that’s where one has to worry about the veterans buying into the new coaching staff. Briggs is a professional and there shouldn’t be an anticipated problems, but the Bears need him to be more engaged than ever. That’s easier said than done when you’ve played almost all your career for one head coach. Trestman will be changing a lot (most notably the routine the veterans are used to) and it’s imperative veterans like Briggs buy in and lead by example.
Now 32 years old, it will be interesting to see if Briggs’ play tails off at all, but he’s been one of the most durable players the Bears have ever had (he’s only missed four games in 10 years). The Bears will need him to stay healthy for a new linebacking group to maintain a high level of play.
The 10 Most Important Bears Panel: Dan Hampton, Hub Arkush, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Nick Shepkowski, Herb Lawrence, Joe Ostrowski, Chris Tannehill, Adam Harris and Dan Durkin.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.