"What we're buying into is that we think we have our best team coming this year," Smith said.
"It's training camp time and he's showing up. A lot of things are said during the offseason. I don't put a lot of stock in a lot of it," said Smith, who got his own contract extension in the offseason after some testy talk from his agent.
"I put stock into when it's time to go to work, who's there? I'm excited that Lance will be here," Smith added
Well, Briggs won't be at Olivet Nazarene until probably Sunday, Smith said. He's allowing him to miss the first two days of practice Friday and Saturday to take care of some personal business.
And once he does suit up, the Bears won't rush him. Briggs missed offseason workouts and a mandatory minicamp.
"I've communicated with Lance throughout. With modern technology you can text and do a lot of different things like that. He's been in contact with his teammates and so I'd hoped he would be here," Smith said.
"First, we have to see exactly what type of shape Lance is in, so we will bring him along slowly. Once Lance Briggs gets into shape I think it's safe to say he is our starter. He's one of the best linebackers in the game."
The Bears don't really have too many position battles shaping up, although they will have to sort out their defensive tackle rotation, where talented Tommie Harris returns from a hamstring injury and backups Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone left as free agents.
And, of course, there's no Tank Johnson, the troubled tackle who was finally released after he was pulled over by Arizona police shortly after offseason workouts ended. The Bears had given Johnson, who spent two months in jail and who'd been suspended the first eight games of the season by the NFL, plenty of second chances and then had seen enough.
"It's disappointing whenever you lose someone who has been part of your team for the amount of time Tank was. But things happen," Smith said. "That's a chapter in our life, we've closed that page and we've moved on. I'll always care what happens to Tank, and hopefully Tank can get a few things straightened out and go from there."
And Smith said he expects Rex Grossman, who could be good one week and well below average the next, to be much improved in his second full season as a starter. Grossman is going into the final year of his contract.
"We'll find out these next coming weeks if I still got anything left in the tank, and I'm sure that I do," Brown said Thursday.
"We left a lot out there, one game, and we want to be the champs," Brown said.
"NFC champs doesn't really mean anything, we want to be the Super Bowl champs. We stated it last year that we wanted to be that, didn't quite get there. This year, hopefully we'll get an opportunity to play in that game again and the outcome will be different."