The emotional and physical loss of Lance Briggs cannot be understated. This year, he has taken over as the defensive signal caller and on-field coach, designations previously held by Brian Urlacher. The Bears should feel fortunate, however, that they were able to nab OLB Kaseem Greene in the fourth round of last year’s draft, as he possesses requisite skills and traits for a starting weakside linebacker. Greene, of course, converted from safety to linebacker his junior year at Rutgers University and in so doing, earned Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. He’s still learning how to master the finer aspects of linebacking, but Greene has had one of the best tutors in Briggs. While it was mentioned that Emery probably feels his hand was forced to play Bostic sooner than he had liked, it would come as no surprise if the GM had no designs to get Greene extensive playing time until 2014 at the earliest. Greene needs playing time to improve, but lower-leverage situations would have been a more preferable route than a Monday night matchup with arch-rival Green Bay. He faired adequately in the preseason with a (-1.7) overall grade on 130 snaps, but just 15% of those snaps came at the weakside backer position. Greene’s performance on the weakside did net him his highest PFF grade of (0.9), so it appears he’s more comfortable in that spot.
“Baptism by fire” accurately sums up the rookie linebackers’ introduction to the Bears-Packers rivalry this week. Aaron Rodgers has been his surgical self in 2013, but Green Bay has added a dimension to their offense with rookie running back Eddie Lacy. If nothing else, Week 9 will provide Bostic and Greene with their “welcome to the NFL” moments. The Bears also signed LB Larry Grant, formerly of the Ohio State Buckeyes, to provide depth behind the rookies and on special teams. Do not expect Grant to make too much noise this season.