For 10 seasons, Lance Briggs was the right-hand man to future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher.
Briggs was the Robin to Urlacher's Batman, the Luca Brasi to Urlacher's Don Corleone.
Urlacher took the Arizona alum under his wing, taught him the ins and outs of Lovie Smith's defense and helped him become a star in his own right. With Urlacher now retired, Briggs is now the man in charge on defense.
During the offseason, Briggs volunteered to be the Bears defensive captain. He will call the defensive huddles, alert his teammates to audibles and coverages and lead the 10 other starters week in and week out.
The good news is Briggs is putting his team on his back and taking on a huge responsibility.
The bad news is some will try to compare Briggs to Urlacher. There will be high expectations of the 32-year-old, his leadership will be under a microscope and he will be expected to perform better than he has in his entire career.
Fans can be brutal when expectations are not met. Some wonder why Briggs would even accept such a responsibility with a new coaching staff on the sidelines. But No. 55 looks ready to take the challenge head on. He believes in himself and his teammates have confidence in him to lead.
Even though the Bears are just getting started, Briggs has already garnered the respect of Marc Trestman and the rest of the coaching staff. Now he has to earn the fans' respect and produce at a higher level than to which he's accustomed. While it may be a steep hill to climb, if Briggs can stay healthy and continue to play at a high level, climbing that hill will get easier as time goes on.
For now, it's good to know there will be a familiar face leading the Bears out of the tunnel on Sundays.
Gabe Salgado is a RedEye special contributor.
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun