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Lance Briggs not yet cleared for Chicago Bears return

Help for the Chicago Bears' struggling defense isn't coming fast enough.

Linebacker Lance Briggs told the Chicago Sun-Times he wasn't cleared to play after having his fractured left shoulder evaluated by team doctors Tuesday.

"I have to be able to defend myself on the football field," he said. "If I can't do that, then they won't clear me."

Briggs said he'll have another evaluation in a "couple days" and wouldn't rule himself for Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. However, it doesn't sound optimistic that he will play in his first game since Week 7.

The Bears are in the thick of the NFC North race with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The team's offense, currently led by quarterback Josh McCown and the NFL's top wide receiver duo, has enough firepower to win the division, but the defense needs to be better.

"You gotta tackle," Briggs said. "You gotta get guys down. When your opportunity comes, you have to make plays."

In the six games without Briggs, the Bears have allowed 1,220 yards rushing, according to the Sun-Times -- a pace that would set the all-time record for worst rushing defense if stretched for a full season.

Briggs isn't the cure-all for a squad that has lost a plethora of defensive line players. However, his return would provide a significant boost to a defense that struggles to make plays behind the line of scrimmage against the running game.

*The latest "Around The League Podcast" recapped all the Week 14 games. *

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