Briggs says D.J. Williams will start at MLB

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- New Chicago Bears defensive signal caller Lance Briggs tried to remove any lingering confusion Thursday, saying that D.J. Williams will be the team's starting middle linebacker in Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Moments later, though, coach Marc Trestman said a decision still had not been made.

Williams, who has been dealing with a serious calf injury for most of training camp, did not play in any of the four preseason games. Jon Bostic started in his place and was impressive, leading to speculation that the rookie could start the opener while Williams worked his way back into shape.

"Well, let's clarify this," Briggs said. "When we opened camp, D.J. Williams was our starting middle linebacker. James Anderson was our starting (strongside linebacker) and Lance Briggs was our starting (weakside linebacker). D.J. Williams got injured which in turn gave an opportunity for Jon Bostic to not only showcase his skills, but to learn. He got a chance to run with the ones and now D.J. Williams is back from injury and D.J. Williams is our starting (middle linebacker)."

The more conservative coach wasn't ready to be so decisive.

"We have not (made a middle linebacker decision)," Trestman said. "We'll continue to look at that. It's very evident we will be starting a young offensive line, so we don't have to go too far into that. We will wait another day on (receiver) Earl (Bennett), we're going to see who practiced well today, and we're going to wait another day on D.J., who practiced well today. Then we'll sit down as a staff and make a collective decision where we'll be with the (roster of) 46 on Sunday."

If some of Trestman's hesitation is in regard to Williams' conditioning, Briggs says that playing in the opener without seeing time in the preseason is far from unprecedented.

"I did it, Brian (Urlacher) has done it," Briggs said. "Two years ago I hurt my knee and I think in the fourth or fifth practice, and missed the whole preseason. My first game was against Atlanta, we came out and played well and beat Atlanta pretty bad. I had a few extra loafs that game, more than I usually did, but technique-wise I was fine."

Williams has also done it in each of the past two seasons with the Broncos, so he knows what it will take to play Sunday. For Bostic, a second-round draft pick, he figures to get plenty of playing time when the veteran Williams is winded.

"(Bostic) made a good name for himself in preseason," Briggs said. "He did what you're supposed to do. It's not my call, I'm just a football player. But when I was a rookie, as much as I thought I should have been a starter, I respected the fact that our coaches told me Game 1, I wasn't going to be a starter.

"For me, it just meant that I needed to keep doing things to make the coach want to put me in, whether that be on special teams or whatever it is. However I can get an opportunity that's what I need to do."