NFC North Notes

The Bears will be looking for the Lions and former head coach Dick Jauron to snap the Vikings four-game winning streak. Get the news and notes from that clash, which has huge playoff implications for Chicago.

Detroit Lions
Three days after the firing of coach Steve Mariucci, the Lions still are experiencing reverberations in the revamped coaching department.

Ted Tollner, the offensive coordinator under Mariucci, was demoted to tight ends coach with the firing of Mariucci on Monday, but on Thursday interim coach Dick Jauron said that Tollner will be a co-coordinator with Greg Olson.

Olson apparently liked the idea of having the more experienced Tollner available to assist in game-planning, although Olson will take over the play-calling as of Sunday, when the Lions meet the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field.

There also seems to be a question as to how firmly Jeff Garcia is entrenched as the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.

Jauron indicated Wednesday that Garcia will be the starter, barring injury, through the remaining five games. Asked again Thursday if that was the case, he said: "At this point, yes."

Olson, in discussing the same issue, seemed to see it somewhat differently.

"Right now we have decided to go with Jeff Garcia as maybe giving us the best chance to win this game this week," Olson said. "Does that mean that it is settled for the rest of the season? No. We have to produce. I think everybody is being evaluated every day -- from the coaching staff on down to the players."

It is also uncertain how much playing time will go to some of the younger players president Matt Millen indicated were not being adequately developed. Although Millen did not mention names, it was assumed he was talking about four first-round draft picks -- wide receivers Roy Williams, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams, and running back Kevin Jones.

Jauron indicated Thursday he hopes to get Jones increased carries but was less clear on his plans for Rogers and Mike Williams. He indicated Rogers, Mike Williams and recently signed Troy Edwards would compete for the final one or two receiver spots on the roster.


  • QB Jeff Garcia apparently is healthy enough to get his first starting assignment since throwing the overtime interception that cost the Lions their Oct. 30 game against Chicago. Interim coach Dick Jauron indicated Garcia will probably be the starter for the remaining five games, but newly appointed offensive coordinator Greg Olson said every player's performance is up for review after the game Sunday against Minnesota.

  • QB Joey Harrington's future with the Lions seems bleak after the decision by interim coach Dick Jauron to bypass him in favor of Jeff Garcia as the starter for the Sunday game against Minnesota. There was speculation president Matt Millen wanted to give Harrington a chance to play without former coach Steve Mariucci, who had been one of his main detractors for the past three seasons. That apparently is not the case, which means he might be finished with the Lions after the 2005 season.

  • RB Kevin Jones was upgraded from doubtful to probable for the game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Jones suffered a quadriceps injury on one of his four carries in the Thanksgiving Day game against Atlanta, but interim coach Dick Jauron indicated he wants Jones to get 20 to 30 carries.

  • LT Jeff Backus, who has been hampered by a sprained ankle through most of the past two months, got a day off to rest the ankle Thursday after practicing Wednesday. It appears likely he will start against Minnesota on Sunday. In five seasons with the Lions, Backus has never missed a start.

  • WR Charles Rogers, who missed most of his first two seasons with broken collarbone injuries and sat out a four-game substance-abuse suspension this year, has caught just 11 passes for 126 yards in the Lions' first 11 games. It is uncertain if Rogers will be active for the game Sunday against the Vikings.

    The fact defensive tackle C.J. Mosley will start Sunday's game at Detroit in place of the injured Kevin Williams is proof enough the sixth-round pick has gained the confidence of coach Mike Tice. Right, C.J?

    "The comments he's been giving me around here I don't know if he's confident in me or not," Mosley said, laughing. "But that's good that he's got that confidence, and hopefully it will help me out."

    Although Mosley will be making his first career start, he proved himself in last Sunday's victory over Cleveland by playing the majority of snaps after Williams left early because of a sprained right knee. Mosley did not disappoint.

    The 6-foot-2, 314-pound rookie from Missouri tied for the team lead with seven tackles and also had two sacks and forced a fumble. His sack total was one more than Williams, a 2004 Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection, has all season.

    "He is a very mature young man," Tice said of Mosley. "He has been through some life challenges in training camp. He lost some family members (grandparents) back-to-back in a very short period of time. I think sometimes in life when you have those adversities, you grow up. I think he has handled himself very well."

    Mosley, who was inactive for the first three games this season and also did not play in the Vikings' first meeting against Detroit, acknowledges that being next to nose tackle Pat Williams is a tremendous help.

    "It's big," Mosley said. "He requires a lot of attention. You get to see how explosive he is off the ball. He messes up a lot of offensive schemes."

    According to Tice, the coaching staff and veterans, such as Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, have been a main reason Mosley has come along so quickly.

    "I think coach (Brian) Baker and coach (Jim) Panagos have done a nice job of developing him," Tice said. "I also think he has been embraced by Pat Williams and Kevin Williams and the other veterans. I believe they like him. I see they took him under their wing."


  • CB Fred Smoot did individual work in practice Thursday but won't be ready to play in a game for at least another week because of a fractured right collarbone. Smoot has missed the past three games since being injured Nov. 6 against Detroit. CB Brian Williams will continue to start in Smoot's place.

  • DT Kevin Williams will miss Sunday's game at Detroit because of a sprained right knee. The Vikings are hoping to get him back for the Dec. 18 game against Pittsburgh.

  • K Paul Edinger was added to the injury report as probable because of a sore right foot. Coach Mike Tice has said he will give Edinger Friday off so he can rest.

  • The Vikings plan to promote DE Eric Taylor from the practice squad Friday to give them seven healthy defensive linemen for Sunday's game. Roster space could be made by placing G Toniu Fonoti (groin) on injured reserve.

  • DL Spencer Johnson, who has missed the past three games because of a knee injury, continues to practice and will play Sunday.

  • WR Troy Williamson could find himself inactive for a second consecutive game if coach Mike Tice decided he needs to dress eight offensive linemen Sunday and doesn't want to take away from another position group. Without Williamson, the Vikings would dress four receivers.

  • TE Jim Kleinsasser continues to be bothered by a groin injury he suffered Nov. 21 at Green Bay and has had his reps limited in practice this week.

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