Chicago Bears

Briggs to start in Pro Bowl

Bears veteran Lance Briggs is entering elite territory as one of the franchise’s best linebackers.

Briggs, 29, earned his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl selection Tuesday when he was named a starter for the NFC. He joined a trio of Hall of Fame players – Dick Butkus, Bill George and Mike Singletary – as the only Bears linebackers to be selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls.

Briggs, who leads the team with 135 tackles, has eclipsed 100 tackles in six consecutive seasons. He has 2½ sacks, seven tackles for losses, an interception and two pass breakups.

The Bears named Briggs defensive captain after Brian Urlacher dislocated his wrist in Week 1 against Green Bay. Urlacher has been selected to six Pro Bowls in 10 seasons.

The Pro Bowl is Jan. 31 in Miami, which is a week before the Super Bowl. No Super Bowl participants will play in the Pro Bowl.

Star power: Two quarterbacks from the NFC North made the Pro Bowl, but neither was named Jay Cutler.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers were named as backups for starter Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. This is Favre’s 11th trip to the Pro Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning earned his 10th Pro Bowl nod and will start for the AFC. New England’s Tom Brady and San Diego’s Philip Rivers were selected as Manning’s reserves.

Six teams had no Pro Bowl players: Atlanta, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cincinnati and Kansas City.

Pro Bowl roster appears in Fine Print, page 5B.

Health beat: Bears cornerback Charles Tillman suffered broken ribs and a bruised lung in Monday’s win against Minnesota, coach Lovie Smith said.

Tillman was taken to the hospital after Bears safety Craig Steltz drilled his helmet into Tillman’s ribs during a pass play. Corey Graham and Nathan Vasher could replace Tillman for Sunday’s season finale against the Detroit Lions.

Meanwhile, Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox sprained his left ankle Monday and likely will miss the final game. Defensive tackle Israel Idonije (foot) and safety Danieal Manning (calf) also were injured, and their status is uncertain.

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