Bears-Lions Personnel Notes

The Bears have had 14 games to evaluate Qasim Mitchell at left tackle; it's time to look at Marc Colombo in more than spot duty.

Colombo replaced starter Mitchell at left tackle Sunday for the second time this season, and Colombo could get his first start in more than two years this week.

"We're going to play Colombo," offensive coordinator Terry Shea said. "(But) I don't know quite how it's going to unfold yet."

The offensive line problems have been due in part to injury, but poor play at the most important position has also led to a number of unforced errors that have resulted in penalties and sacks.

-- The unit could get a boost this week as RT John Tait's sprained right knee has improved enough for him to practice the past two days, and he could be back in the starting lineup Sunday after missing three straight games.

--It sounds as if Jeff George might not see any game action this season so coaches can work with and more thoroughly evaluate Chad Hutchinson.

"What we need to do is to continue to develop Chad," coach Lovie Smith said. "I really like what Chad has been able to do. A lot of the blame was placed on him for (Sunday's) effort. But I see improvement from him. He showed me an awful lot since he's been here.

"We've all seen Jeff George play before, and if an injury or something happens, then we'll get a chance to see Jeff. But right now we're trying to win football games. Chad is our quarterback and he'll get the reps."

The 37-year-old George said last week that he was prepared to run the offense.

"I wouldn't be the No. 2 guy if I wasn't," said George, who has been the top backup for the last two games.

Offensive coordinator Terry Shea said the coaching staff knows what it has in George because of his long track record and therefore doesn't have to see him perform in a game.

"I know what he could give us, and he's demonstrated that just in the brief period of time in practice that he's had," Shea said. "But right now, I'm not going to stand here and say we plan to play Jeff George. I can't lead you down that path and then two weeks from now (you) say, 'Hey, Terry, what happened?'

"We're very excited because of who Chad Hutchinson is in terms of a leader, the toughness and some of his skill level that we've seen."

Lions
CB Dre' Bly was one of three Lions selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team, although his 2004 season has not been nearly as productive as his 2003 season was, when he made the Honolulu trip for the first time.

Bly missed part of training camp with a hip injury, missed three games with a sprained knee and was not the playmaker he was in 2003, when he scored two defensive touchdowns, had six interceptions and forced five fumbles.

"I didn't play my best when I first came back (from the injury)," Bly said. "But the one thing that was emphasized when I talked to our guys was finishing strong.

"And I think the past three or four weeks have been big for me. I think I played well against some of the NFC teams, but the thing with me is I'm a very confident individual. It's not that I'm surprised that I'm one of the guys picked. I feel like I'm one of the best at what I do."

Bly has four interceptions this season -- two against Dallas and two against Arizona -- and has scored just one touchdown. It was the voting of NFL players and coaches that put him into the Pro Bowl, however. He was not among the top vote-getters in the fan voting.

Bly, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and kick returner Eddie Drummond were selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team. Guard Damien Woody, rookie running back Kevin Jones and fullback Cory Schlesinger were selected as alternates.

--Drummond is in an unusual situation in that he was selected for the Pro Bowl although he hasn't played since Thanksgiving Day and probably will not play in the Pro Bowl game Feb. 13.

Drummond suffered a broken shoulder blade against the Indianapolis Colts on Thanksgiving Day, missed the next three games and was put on injured reserve Wednesday, the day the Pro Bowl teams were announced.

"The healing process isn't going the way we want it to right now," Drummond said. "But, if my arm is 100 percent by then, of course the decision would be to play in it. It could go either way, but if it's, like, 90 percent, more than likely I will not play in it."

At the time Drummond was injured, he was leading the NFL with 13.2-yard punt return average and a 26.6-yard kickoff return average, and he led the NFC kick returners in voting by NFL fans.

"The honor is about 90 percent of it, and about 10 percent of it is playing in the game," Drummond said.


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