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Lance Briggs set on righting defense's course

FootballLance BriggsChicago BearsNFL Pro BowlGreen Bay PackersMarc TrestmanJarrett Boykin
#Bears Lance Briggs itching for Pro Bowl season: "I forgot what it feels like." via @danwiederer
NFL officials discuss controversial play during #Bears' season-ending loss to Packers, via @danwiederer

BOURBONNAIS — Lance Briggs brought it up. He hasn't been to a Pro Bowl since 2011 after a streak of seven straight invitations to the game.

"I forgot what it feels like," Briggs said Thursday.

So, yes, that's extra incentive in the back of the linebacker's mind as the Bears continue training camp. But Briggs also has the urge to flip the page on 2013, a miserable season in which he missed seven games with a shoulder injury and saw a once stout defense unravel.

In the seven games Briggs missed, the Bears allowed 187.6 rushing yards and 26.4 points per game and created only seven takeaways. So when the offseason arrived, Briggs was ready for it. Until he then wanted that to end too.

"You start getting that itch," Briggs said. "You start sleeping a little less and start dreaming about making plays. And at that point you're just kind of looking forward."

Briggs is looking forward to aiding a defensive rebirth, comfortable in the system and confident in his fellow starters. When asked if he still could play at a Pro Bowl level in his 12th season with his 34th birthday nearing, Briggs put his tongue in his cheek.

"I've lost a couple of steps," he cracked. "Now literally sometimes I have to fall into a tackle. If I'm lucky, a (ball carrier) will fall and I'll put my hand on him and I'll get credit for it. That's where I'm at in my stage in my career."

Briggs knows better. So does coach Marc Trestman.

"He's out there with a lot of energy," Trestman said. "And I think he's creating that throughout the defense."

Old wounds: The officiating crew from the Bears' season-ending 33-28 loss to the Packers last December almost blew dead the play on which Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin advanced quarterback Aaron Rodgers' fumble 15 yards for a touchdown.

Three officials who worked that game recalled the sequence to members of the media Thursday. Umpire Garth DeFelice, side judge Greg Meyer and back judge Terrence Miles are part of a group visiting camp to update the team on rules changes and new officiating points of emphasis.

Asked to recall the Rodgers fumble that seemed like an incomplete pass, the officials admitted it was an uncomfortable wait as the ball bounced around and no one tried to advance it. The opportunity to blow the whistle, the officials said, entered their thought process.

But according to the NFL rulebook, that decision would have been a mistake as the ball never came to rest and because Boykin never went to the ground after possessing the fumble.

Toliver gone: The Bears waived receiver Terrence Toliver and offensive tackle Cody Booth and signed offensive linemen Graham Pocic and Dennis Roland. Toliver, according to a source, suffered a fracture in his foot and was given an injury settlement.

Tribune reporter Rich Campbell contributed.

dwiederer@tribune.com

Twitter @danwiederer

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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FootballLance BriggsChicago BearsNFL Pro BowlGreen Bay PackersMarc TrestmanJarrett Boykin
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