Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, center, celebrates with teammate Brandon Marshall in front of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson after catching a 23-yard touchdown pass Sunday in Minneapolis.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The NFL’s oldest rivals are spicing up their Sunday showdown with some serious trash talk.
Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs unloaded on the Packers on Thursday, saying he’s no fan of Green Bay and calling Jermichael Finley “an idiot.” Wide receiver Brandon Marshall went off Wednesday, saying he’s never disliked a team as much as the Packers.
“Very similar,” Briggs said Thursday when asked if he felt the same way. “Think he said it best, though. Doesn’t like them, and he’s going to play this game like it’s his last. I feel the same way.”
Briggs really took issue with Finley for telling FOXSportsWisconsin.com the Bears might be better off with linebacker Brian Urlacher sidelined by a hamstring injury. The Packers’ tight end was quoted as saying Chicago is not “losing too much if he’s out.”
Asked about that, Briggs responded, “He’s an idiot. You know?”
“Just suit up, play ball,” he said. “His comments aren’t going to change the outcome of the game, they’re not going to help him or anybody play better. Doesn’t really matter.”
Finley posted Thursday on Twitter that he “meant no disrespect” to Urlacher, who has already missed one game and could be out the remainder of the season. He called the Bears’ veteran a Hall of Fame player and person, and wrote “his replacement in the lineup (Nick Roach) is a good player as well.”
Either way, the comments have added a twist to a game that really didn’t need it.
After all, the Packers (9-5) can clinch the NFC North with a win on Sunday. The Bears (8-5) are trying to hang on after dropping four of five in another late-season collapse. Chicago fell apart a year ago once Jay Cutler broke his right thumb and finished 8-8 after a 7-3 start. That cost general manager Jerry Angelo his job, with Phil Emery replacing him.
This year, with expectations soaring after they acquired Marshall, Chicago won seven of its first eight games. But the schedule took a tougher turn. Injuries started to pile up, too.
Besides Urlacher, cornerback Tim Jennings sat out last weekend’s game against Minnesota with a shoulder injury. Cutler, who missed a game last month because of a concussion, couldn’t finish against the Vikings because of a sore neck and also had a knee issue listed on the injury report. He was a limited participant Thursday, although coach Lovie Smith said he practiced “without any trouble at all.”
Cutler expects to play this weekend, but the Bears will be without kicker Robbie Gould (calf) after placing him on injured reserve.
Those injuries are only a small part of the list, but they won’t get much sympathy from the Packers. They’ve endured more than their share, yet they’re sailing along with seven wins in eight games.
Green Bay has also won seven of eight against Chicago and five straight in the series, including the NFC title game two years ago. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 8-2 against the Bears, and Briggs is simply tired of losing to them.
“We’ve been in the games, we just didn’t finish,” Briggs said. “We’ve had opportunities, we’ve squandered opportunities. Turnovers, not getting enough turnovers. There’s a lot of reason why, over the years, we haven’t won the game. This is a new game. It’s a new opportunity and we have a lot on the line.”
While Marshall is new to the rivalry, Briggs has been with Chicago since he was drafted in 2003.
“You just get sick of it,” he said. “And that to go along with history and hearing the city, hearing the people from the city, how important this game is, how important it is to everybody. We’ll go out and we’re going to play this game like it’s our last.”
Notes: WR Earl Bennett (concussion), RB Michael Bush (ribs) DE Shea McClellin (knee) and DT Henry Melton (chest) did not practice, along with Jennings and Urlacher. Smith said Melton was excused for personal reasons. Briggs (knee, hip), TE Kellen Davis (knee), LB Geno Hayes (knee), OT Jonathan Scott (shoulder) and DT Matt Toeaina (knee) were limited. G Chris Spencer (knee) was a full participant after sitting out the past two games, as were Stephen Paea (foot) and Charles Tillman (shoulder).
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