CHICAGO -- The left shoulder injury that knocked Bears linebacker Lance Briggs out of seven games last season will force the seven-time Pro Bowl selection to wear a harness under his shoulder pads next season.
Briggs told ESPN 1000's "Carmen and Jurko Show" on Monday that he is still recovering from the fractured shoulder he suffered while attempting to make a tackle in the Bears' 45-41 loss to the Washington Redskins on Oct. 20.
“My injury was very avoidable looking back at it,” Briggs said. "I stayed on that tackle on the wrong side or on that block on the wrong side. I should've stayed on the outside [of the ball carrier's body] and hammered the ball in. I saw the ball and I tried to play fast. But I went down, and I thought about the injury every day that I was on the sidelines.
"As far as my shoulder, I will have a strap and go out and play football. My left shoulder is getting stronger and we’ll continue to work on getting it stronger until the shoulder is 100 percent."
Briggs did return to action in Week 16 versus the Philadelphia Eagles, but he clearly wasn't himself after the long layoff. Briggs recorded only five tackles as the Eagles routed the Bears 54-11.
"I was not at my optimum weight at all," Briggs acknowledged. "I mean, the Eagles are tough for any defense because they run 60 to 80 plays per game. At that point, I really didn't think I was going to come back and play at all the rest of that year so I ended up just sucking it up and playing the last two games. In that last game against the Green Bay Packers (seven tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss), I was fine with my conditioning. But there wasn't a whole lot I could do for the two months that I was off. That's what happens, you know."
The Bears are counting on Briggs to have another Pro Bowl caliber season in 2014. Entering his 12th year with the Bears, Briggs is scheduled to earn $5.5 million and count $6.5 million against the team's salary cap. The expectation is for Briggs to anchor a defense that has already experienced substantial turnover in the offseason after a disastrous 2013 campaign.
"Defensively, we have a lot of holes and we are in the process of getting that stuff fixed," Briggs said. "We have a draft coming up and we're going to pick up more important players that are going to help us win. When next season rolls around, hopefully we’ll have those parts that can allow us to perform at a high level."