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Lance Briggs fills Brian Urlacher's role in Chicago

One of the side effects of linebacker Brian Urlacher's retirement from the Chicago Bears is that Lance Briggs now will be calling the defensive plays.

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The weakside linebacker volunteered for the duty usually reserved for the middle man.

Briggs said Tuesday he has made a concerted effort to be a leader on a team that lost several veterans.

"I'm just more vocal now," Briggs said, via the Chicago Tribune. "We have a lot of great players, so for me it's just getting guys aligned and getting them in the best position to compete."

Briggs is coming to grips with the fact that for the first time in his 11-year NFL career, Urlacher won't be there to run the show.

"It's very different," Briggs said. "I didn't call the plays before, and now I am. I just have a lot of respect. I've been spoiled for the last 10 years."

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The Bears brought in several young linebackers -- Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene -- who they hope will join with the veteran to form the next Urlacher-Briggs combo for years to come. Briggs said he's looking forward to mentoring the young players so they can be ready to contribute heavily this season.

"These young guys are wide-eyed, flying around, very smart guys," Briggs said. "You'll get to know more about them once we put pads on but they're soaking it in really fast, picking it up, so I'm excited to see what they're going to do."

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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