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Briggs expects physical game with Broncos

Published: Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 5:30 a.m. CDT

LAKE FOREST – Bears linebacker Lance Briggs expects to be nice and sore after Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

That’s a good thing.

“It’s going to be a physical game, and that’s right up our alley,” Briggs said Thursday. “I expect that after this game, a lot of guys are going to need a lot of ice, from both teams.”

The Bears practiced outside at Halas Hall in preparation for this weekend’s game against the Broncos, who are No. 1 in the NFL with 158.9 rushing yards a game. Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has rushed for 468 yards in 10 games (seven starts), while running back Willis McGahee has rushed for 886 yards in 11 games this season.

Briggs and his teammates are No. 8 against the run with 99.8 yards allowed per game.

“When you know that a team’s going to run the ball, you know to get your chin straps strapped up and get your big-boy pants on cause it’s going to be physical,” Briggs said.

No sleeping: Bears safety Craig Steltz said the Broncos tended to lull opposing defenses asleep with run play after run play, only to strike with a pass for a big gain.

Steltz had one message to his teammates in the secondary: Be alert.

“It’s a huge key,” said Steltz, an LSU alum who played against Tebow twice during his college career. “If they run the ball so many times in a row, be alert that there is play-action coming off that run. Continue to read keys because that’s where big plays happen. Guys misread their keys or their eyes are in the backfield and someone’s running free down the field.”

No excuses: Bears coach Lovie Smith was asked whether his players faced additional challenges this weekend in Denver’s mile-high altitude.

“What altitude?” Smith asked rhetorically. “It’s no factor for us.

“Conditioning isn’t a big thing with us. [We’re in] great shape, ready to go. That won’t be a factor.”

Bears bits: Bears safety Major Wright (shoulder) missed practice for a second consecutive day, putting his status in doubt for Sunday’s game. If Wright cannot play, Steltz is expected to start at strong safety. … McGahee (knee) missed his second consecutive practice for the Broncos, but he is expected to play Sunday.

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