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Briggs, Bostic not expected to play

With Lance Briggs and Jonathan Bostic both listed as doubtful for Sunday's road game against the New England Patriots, it appears that the Bears will remain shorthanded at linebacker.

Briggs, who practiced on a limited basis Friday, has missed the last two games with a rib injury. Despite his absence, the seven-time Pro Bowler still leads the Bears with 44 tackles this season.



"He's starting to work his way in," said coach Marc Trestman. "He got some work today. We know he's doubtful, but we'll see where he is over the next couple of days."

Bostic also missed the last two games after exiting a Week 5 loss to the Carolina Panthers with a back injury. In last Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Bears started D.J. Williams, Shea McClellin and Khaseem Greene at linebacker and inserted Darryl Sharpton in passing situations.

Sharpton, who signed with the Bears Sept. 25, recorded 10 tackles in a spot start Oct. 12 in a win over the Atlanta Falcons and 11 tackles last Sunday against the Dolphins.

"It's exciting watching him play," Trestman said. "He plays hard. He's a smart young man. He works at it in practice. He's brought another edge to what we're doing. So certainly I'm very happy about him and excited to have him with us."

Safety Danny McCray (knee) has been ruled out of Sunday's game, but safety Chris Conte (shoulder) practiced without restrictions Friday and is probable. Conte sat out last week's game with a shoulder injury and has exited four other contests with head or shoulder injuries.

Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller also practiced without limitations and is probable after leaving last Sunday's game with hip and hand injuries.

"It's really been excellent; he's practiced all week," Trestman said. "He's been in the mix. He's been around the football, been in the right places. It's good to see he's worked through these couple of little things. As far as we see he hasn't missed a rep all week."

Fuller may have to wear a brace on his hand, but Trestman isn't concerned.

"Sometimes it's more problematic for a lineman because he's got to use his hands on every play," said the Bears coach. "So it's the constant pounding on each and every play. That doesn't necessarily happen from a standpoint of a defensive back. Certainly he's got to wrap up and make tackles. But he doesn't have the direct collision all the time that a lineman has."

On the other side of the ball, right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) did not practice Friday and is questionable. If he's unable to play, super sub Michael Ola would replace him.

Asked if Mills' injured foot could be a problem throughout the season, Trestman said: "Well, certainly it's a problem right now. We'll have to see where that is over the course of the next couple of days. We'll see where Jordan is. If he can't go, then Mike will be in his place."

An NFL rookie who played for Trestman in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes, Ola has excelled while playing every offensive line position except center this year with the Bears.

"We're grateful to have him here, and Michael's grateful to be here," Trestman said. "We certainly know that. He's just handled himself as if he's done it. That's really the best way to describe him is that he carries himself like he's been doing this a long time; the way he engages his teammates, the way he prepares, the way he handles himself in meetings.

"It's obvious that his journey has put him in a place where he is very comfortable in this position in terms of the job he's got to do. He's a gifted young man, as all these guys are to be able to play in this league and to do it on short notice the way he has.

"To pick it up is a tribute to him and certainly to [coaches] Aaron [Kromer] and Pat [Meyer] for the job they've done to help him technically and in terms of mastering his work at that position and the other positions, which makes his value so much greater."

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