Not only are Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher eager to return to the field after missing the final exhibition game with ankle injuries, but the linebackers are also excited to see just how good the Bears' defense can be.
"I want to see not only how the other 10 guys respond but how I respond to what we want to be," Briggs said. "Everything is not going to go according to plan. They game plan. They are professionals just like we are. But if we win the percentage game and we win the turnovers we'll win the game. That's what we're looking for."
The Lions are thin at linebacker and in the defensive backfield, which means Detroit's defense could be just the remedy the Bears' offense has been looking for after a shaky preseason. The Lions' offense is a different story. With emerging second-year quarterback Matt Stafford, receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Jahvid Best, Detroit is dangerous.
"They've got a lot of weapons," Briggs said. "They do a lot. They take advantage of what they have. If they have a speed back they get him in space or try to get him running outside the tackles. Obviously, they have Calvin Johnson. Stafford is the guy who distributes that rock and Dominic Raiola is a veteran center. He's been one of the best centers in the league for a long time."
Urlacher has also noticed a change for the better in Detroit.
"Yeah, they've gotten better," Urlacher said. "The draft has helped them a lot, starting with Calvin Johnson, and then they get Stafford, and this year they get [Ndamukong] Suh. They have got some good free agents, also. They've still got to go out there and prove it, but they've made some good acquisitions in the offseason. They'll be better this year than they have been."
The Bears finished tied for 21st in the league in points allowed last season and 17th in yards allowed per game. Bears coach Lovie Smith is hoping the addition of defensive end Julius Peppers, the return of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and the acquisition of safety Chris Harris can help the defense make a significant improvement.
Briggs said players trusting each other is key.
"Within this team sport there are a lot of individual battles [and] we have to count on each other to win those individual battles," he said. "We could have every man in a gap to stop a run, and one man gets cut and if you get cut that's the hole the back is going to try to crease. You can't allow yourself to be cut. That's where it happens. When it happens you need to be the first man to stand up and say, 'It was me. It won't happen again.' We can deal with that. If it's mistake after mistake, then we have to make plays to make up for the mistakes. That's where you get killed. Now you've got guys trying to do more than their job. If everybody does their job we'll be fine."
Said Urlacher: "It has been a long offseason, been a long preseason. Especially missing those last couple games was frustrating. But I'm really rested right now. I'm just excited for people to see how good we're going to be."
As for his own health, Briggs' participated in all the drills reporters were allowed to see and said he expects to be ready by Sunday.
"Everything has been according to doctors orders," he said. "I gradually worked myself into practice with hopes that this week I'll be on that field and that's what I plan on doing."