This weekend's road trip to Green Bay will be special for Lance Briggs, and not only because the seven-time Pro Bowler is expected to return to action after missing the last three games with a rib injury.
Speaking to the media Wednesday at Halas Hall, the veteran linebacker conceded that he could be playing his last NFL season and making his final trip to Lambeau Field.
|Linebacker Lance Briggs was voted to seven straight Pro Bowls from 2005-11.|
Selected in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Arizona, Briggs became a starter four games into his rookie season and has maintained a stranglehold on the position for more than a decade. He has helped the Bears win three division championships and one conference title.
With his contract due to expire after the 2014 season, Briggs has been reflecting on the past and wondering about his future.
"It's the last year of my deal," Briggs said. "It's not like I'm magically going to show up after this year and they're going to open the gates up for me. I've talked to my buddy, [former Bears defensive end] Alex Brown. Those gates are closed when you're a free agent.
"I know the reality of it and I'm proud of all the years I've had here. It's been great. I couldn't have asked for a better situation. Last week I got to practice on the scout team [while recovering from his injury]. It's been a long time since I practiced on the scout team, but I told you guys last week I was the best damn scout team player the Bears have ever seen."
As Briggs prepares for Sunday night's clash against the Packers, he hopes to add to his positive memories at Lambeau Field. While the Bears have lost five of their last six games in Green Bay since 2008, they won four of five contests during Briggs' first five seasons from 2003-07.
That includes Lovie Smith's very first win as Bears coach in 2004, a division-clinching victory on Christmas Day 2005 and a 26-0 rout in the 2006 season opener.
Briggs' most lasting memory at Lambeau Field, however, came during his rookie season in 2003 when he intercepted a Brett Favre pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
"I scored my first touchdown at Lambeau, back in '03 from Brett Favre," Briggs said. "That is memorable; very, very memorable. I remember him getting twirled around by Bryan Robinson and him just hurling the ball up into the air.
"It felt like it was in the air forever and I was just saying, 'Lance, please don't drop this,' and I caught it and scored. It was fun. We've had great battles at Lambeau; really, really great battles and I'll never forget them."