KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/18/05 SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 151st meeting. The Bears hold an 83-62-5 lead in the series, which began in 1930 when the Lions were still playing in Portsmouth, Ohio. The Lions won at Soldier Field last year for the first time in four years, in the process of breaking their NFL-record 24-game road losing streak. They have won the last three games against Chicago. *2005 rankings: Lions: offense 27th (14th rush, 29th pass); defense 3rd (5th rush, 8th pass). Bears: offense 31st (14th rush, 30th pass); defense 17th (29th rush, 6th pass)
PREDICTION: Lions 17-10
KEYS TO THE GAME: Rookie RB Cedric Benson is expected to share more of the rushing load with Thomas Jones as the Bears desperately seek to run the ball better. Detroit isn't likely to blitz rookie QB Kyle Orton as often as Washington did last weekend, but Chicago must run the ball more than 18 times to give him a legitimate shot to have success. Regardless, the Bears' defense will have to keep it in games for now, which means improving a run defense that allowed 164 yards against the Redskins. The Lions have a deep and talented group of young receivers, but the Bears still want to force QB Joey Harrington's hand. And they can't do that if Lions RB Kevin Jones is gashing them with the run.
FAST FACTS: Lions: Harrington has started 33 consecutive games. ... Have won the past three meetings. ... Swept the 2004 season series by a combined score of 39-29. ... Have a five-game road losing streak. Bears: Lead the series 83-62-5. ... Last Sunday's 9-7 loss was the lowest combined score in a Bears game since a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 24, 1999.
- WR Charles Rogers rested an ankle injury while the Lions practiced Thursday and was listed as probable on the team's injury report. Although the injury appears minor, Rogers has played only five full games in two NFL seasons because of two broken collarbones, creating uncertainty if he can hold up physically for a full season. He had one catch for 31 yards in the season opener but the ankle bothered him in practice Wednesday.
- PK Jason Hanson has spent most of the week resting and getting treatment for a strained hamstring suffered in the Lions' season opener against Green Bay. If Hanson cannot kick, the Lions will sign another kicker or turn the duties over to P Nick Harris on an interim basis
- LB Teddy Lehman, who suffered a sprained knee in practice nearly three weeks ago, returned to the practice field this week and it appears likely he will play in the Lions game Sunday at Chicago.
- OLB Alex Lewis did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of an ankle injury he suffered in the Lions' season opener against Green Bay. Coach Steve Mariucci indicated Lewis won't play if he is not able to practice before the game Sunday at Chicago.
- RG Damien Woody has been limited by a shoulder injury in practice this week but it appears likely he will play Sunday in the Lions' game at Chicago. Woody, a former Pro Bowler, is the team's best run blocker, an important element if they hope to move the ball via RB Kevin Jones against the Bears tough run defense.
- WR Muhsin Muhammad (side) practiced on Thursday and was removed from the injury report.
- CB Jerry Azumah (hip) practiced Thursday and was removed from the injury report. It remains to be determined if he will increase his workload after playing only in nickel situations last week.
- FS Chris Harris, a sixth-round pick from Louisiana-Monroe, will start in place of Mike Green. The Bears believe Harris gives them more of as true centerfield-type player with better ball skills than Green.
- FS Mike Green, a starter for most of the past three seasons, has been replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Chris Harris, a sixth-round pick from Louisiana-Monroe. Green was switched in the off-season from strong safety to free and didn't do a very good job of playing the ball in the season opener.
- CB Rashied Davis could replace WR Bernard Berrian as the punt returner. Davis is the better player once the ball is in his hands, but he isn't as consistent catching it as Berrian.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Detroit Lions: Wide receiver Charles Rogers, who has been plagued by injuries in his first two seasons with the Lions, is hurting again, but his latest injury appears to be much less serious that the broken collarbones that limited him to five games in his rookie season and three plays of the season opener last year.
Rogers sat out the team's Thursday workout with a sore ankle but was listed as probable for the game Sunday at Chicago, and coach Steve Mariucci is hopeful he will play.
"He hurt his ankle in our last game and he tried to practice (Wednesday) and he did practice (Wednesday)," Mariucci said, "but we wanted him to calm down today so hopefully he'll do something (Friday)."
Despite his injuries, the Lions have insisted that Rogers is not fragile. Just unlucky.
He broke his right collarbone in a bye-week practice after making 22 catches for 243 yards and three touchdowns in five games after the Lions drafted him with the No. 2 pick in the first round of the 2003 draft.
He worked his way back into shape, sailed through 2004 training camp unscathed and then broke the same collarbone on the third play of the season opener at Chicago last year.
The ankle injury apparently is not as serious, but it once again raises the question of whether Rogers - in spite of adding about 10 pounds to get up to 218 - is built to take the rigors of a 16-game NFL season.
Mariucci indicated he is optimistic about Rogers' chances for a quick return, although admitting Rogers might have felt some uncertainty after missing two seasons with injuries.
"I suppose there is some anxiety that would go along with it," Mariucci said. "He made it through the (Green Bay) game and he's healthy other than that ankle. That will calm down and he'll be ready to roll."
Rogers was listed as probable, an indication he will be able to play Sunday.
The Lions' other major injury concern is placekicker Jason Hanson, who strained a hamstring and has not practiced this week. Mariucci said the team will use punter Nick Harris or sign another kicker if Hanson doesn't feel better by Saturday.
Chicago Bears: Although rookie quarterback Kyle Orton got mostly positive reviews of his opening-day performance, more is expected from him this week.
"We liked some things but didn't like the end result," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "I'm talking about that last drive. That kind of sticks with you the most. We lost the football game. So you can't like anything a whole lot. He was encouraging. That drive started on the 25, in a tough place to play. He kept his composure, he showed a little moxie. I liked those things about him. But he's got to finish drives. That's the name of the game. We just didn't get that done."
Orton received high marks for seeing the whole field and knowing where to go with the ball, even if his execution wasn't exceptional.
But he fumbled twice, losing the ball once, and was also intercepted. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said he's looking for improvement in avoiding turnovers Sunday.
"Take care of the football, (that's) No. 1," Turner said. "He put it on the ground a couple times; he was kind of sloppy with it in the pocket. So he's just got to take care of it."
Turner is already convinced that he can expand Orton's role in the offense, but he wants to be careful not to overload the rookie early in the season. The Redskins defense may have already provided Orton with one of the toughest tests he'll take all season, and the experience is invaluable.
"He can do more, no question, but we have to be careful how quickly we bring him along," Turner said. "He's played one game. There's no doubt he's going to be a very good player. He's poised. Even though he didn't always execute and do things exactly like we want, he showed confidence.
"They came with everything they've got. Every blitz that you'll probably see the rest of the year, he saw on Sunday, and he saw them all. He handled it, he saw the field very well, so he'll be able to do more as the season progresses."