Game Week: Lions News and Notes

News and Notes from Allen Park as the Lions prepare for Sunday's matchup in Chicago. Included inside: Individual player notes, matchups to watch, injury impact and more.

KICKING CONCERNS

The Lions are somewhat on the spot deciding what they will do for a kicker while 14-year veteran Jason Hanson recovers from what he refers to as a "slight tear" of his right hamstring.

They brought in four kickers - Wade Richey, Remy Hamilton, Todd France and Tyler Jones - for workouts but coach Steve Mariucci said he will wait as long as possible to determine whether to sign an interim kicker.

If Hanson is able to kick short field goals and extra points - as he did after the injury in the first quarter of the season opener against Green Bay - or if it appears he will be ready to play after the Sept. 25 bye, the Lions will consider getting by with punter Nick Harris handling kickoff duties and field goals Hanson can't manage.

But if the hamstring injury is serious enough to keep Hanson out of action for two or three games, the Lions probably will sign another kicker, although they do not like the idea of cutting a player to make a roster spot available.

PLAYER NOTES

  • LB Teddy Lehman returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering a sprained knee more than two weeks ago. He did not participate in all of the work and it remains uncertain whether he will play Sunday at Chicago.
     
  • P Nick Harris worked on kickoffs and kicks from placement when the Lions began practice Wednesday for their game Sunday at Chicago. Harris might be forced into duty because of a hamstring injury suffered by PK Jason Hanson in the season opener.
     
  • FB Paul Smith, the backup for starting FB Cory Schlesinger, is preparing himself for the task of lead blocker against MLB Brian Urlacher in the Lions' game Sunday at Chicago. Schlesinger is out for at least one more game with a broken fibula and Smith has no experience blocking Urlacher.
     
  • CB Fernando Bryant participated in all of the drills Wednesday in the Lions' first practice for their game Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Bryant injured his jaw crashing to the turf against Green Bay but x-rays revealed no fracture and he was able to get into his helmet for practice.
     
  • OLB Boss Bailey is showing no signs of being hampered by the knee surgery that kept him out of the entire 2004 NFL season. Although he at times seemed tentative and less than aggressive in the preseason, Bailey is the team's leading tackler with 10 after the first regular season game.

GAME PLAN

It was the defense that stood strong in the season opener against Green Bay and it might have to carry the load of keeping the Lions in the game again Sunday at Chicago. Look for the Lions to try to confuse or fluster Bears rookie QB Kyle Orton. Offensively, the Lions will test the Bears run defense but they probably will have to get more passing yardage than they got last week when QB Joey Harrington went 15-for-28 and 167 yards if they hope to control the ball and the clock.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • Lions DT Shaun Rogers vs. Bears QB Kyle Orton. Rogers is a dominating inside force when he's got the motor running and he will try to pressure the Chicago rookie, hit him and sack him to disrupt the Bears passing game.
  • Lions RT Kelly Butler vs. Bears DE Adewale Ogunleye. The Packers tried to take advantage of the rookie RT but didn't have a lot of success. The Bears will try also, hoping DE Adewale Ogunleye can get to the quarterback.
  • Lions RB Kevin Jones vs. Bears MLB Brian Urlacher. Jones averaged just 3.5 yards on 25 carries in the season opener against Green Bay and will probably have a tough time unless he gets help from backup FB Paul Smith blocking on Urlacher.

INJURY IMPACT

QB Jeff Garcia, the backup to starter Joey Harrington, is expected to be out of action for another 5-7 weeks with a broken fibula, leaving rookie Dan Orlovsky as the No. 2 QB and WR Kevin Johnson, a former high school and college QB, as the emergency QB. ... PK Jason Hanson (hamstring) will play if the Lions believe he will not cause additional damage to the right (kicking) hamstring ... RG Damien Woody (shoulder) missed part of the practice Wednesday, as did LB Teddy Lehman (knee) and LB Alex Lewis (ankle) ... Woody is likely to play, although it is less certain about the other two ... FB Cory Schlesinger (broken fibula) will miss at least another game, leaving Paul Smith to handle the lead blocking assignments.


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