Notebook: Can Lions Handle the Pack?

Can Detroit handle Green Bay's multi-tiered attack? Player notes, quotes and more inside.

First you watched the Lions lose their season opener Sunday at Atlanta, 34-21. Then you watched Green Bay beat Minnesota on "Monday Night Football," 24-19.

And then, if you were a Lions fan, you said, "Uh-oh."

The way the Lions' defense played at Atlanta and the Packers' offense played against Minnesota, it looks like it will be a long day for the Lions unless they get some of their problems sorted out.

In his first NFL start, rookie Matt Ryan torched the Lions. He threw a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first career attempt and finished 9-for-13 for 161 yards.

In his first NFL start, Aaron Rodgers torched the Vikings. He threw a touchdown pass and ran for another, and he finished 18-for-22 for 178 yards. Had a 68-yard scoring strike not been called back because of an illegal lineman downfield, his numbers would have been even more impressive.

Lions coach Rod Marinelli compared Rodgers to his predecessor, Brett Favre. Marinelli faced Favre for years, dating back to his days in Tampa Bay, when the Buccaneers were in the NFC Central with the Packers.

Asked if it was weird to see a Green Bay offense without Favre, Marinelli said: "It is. Seeing him there forever. But this guy, it looks like him a little bit. He gets the ball out quick. He's got real good movement. He really does. He can run well. ... You look at his performance. He went in there against a very talented football team in Minnesota and did a nice job."

The Falcons became the third team in history to reach 300 rushing yards against the Lions as they piled up a team-record 318 - 321 before the knee-downs at the end. Running back Michael Turner rushed for a career-best 220.

The Packers rushed for 139 yards against the Vikings, not nearly as big a total, but impressive nonetheless when you consider the Vikings ranked No. 1 in rush defense last season. Ryan Grant rushed for 92 yards on 12 carries, despite a sore hamstring.

Other scary sights:

  • Will Blackmon returning a punt 76 yards for a touchdown. The Lions have had trouble with their coverage units.
  • Left end Aaron Kampman recording another sack. Kampman has had two sacks in each of his past two games against Detroit. He has five in his past five games against Detroit. The Lions still are playing George Foster ahead of first-round pick Gosder Cherilus at right tackle, and Foster allowed a sack at Atlanta when John Abraham blew past him with an inside move.

"The first thing that jumps out on tape is that he never stops," Foster said of Kampman. "Anytime you're dealing with a guy like that, talented or not, you've got your hands full. In his case, he's very talented and doesn't give up. So you've got to be on your P's and Q's all the way around. He's going to present a challenge, and I'm up for it."

We'll see if the Lions are up for it overall.

SERIES HISTORY: 156th meeting. Packers lead series, 84-64-7. The Packers have won five straight in the series. They have won 17 straight at home, including the playoffs. At least, for the Lions' sake, this game is at Ford Field.


  • Center Dominic Raiola thinks the Lions might have been overconfident heading into their season-opening 34-21 loss at Atlanta. "I hope this loss humbled this locker room," said Raiola, a team captain. "I think we maybe got ahead of ourselves too early too fast. ... I think maybe everybody thought that because of the moves in the off-season and because of the change in this locker room, it's just going to work like that. It doesn't work like that."
  • Twice in the first half of last season, the Lions bounced back from a bad road loss with a home victory. They lost at Philadelphia, 56-21, then beat Chicago at home. They lost at Washington, 34-3, then beat Tampa Bay at home to kick off a three-game winning streak. They finished the first half 6-2. But they went 1-7 in the second half.
  • Sunday's game could become the first regular-season game at Ford Field not to sell out since the Lions moved there in 2002. Raiola understands the fans' frustration after the Atlanta loss. "It's happened in the past, so how are people supposed to believe that it was a bad game?" Raiola said. "The only way to do that is go back out next Sunday. How can we just lip-service that it was a bad game? You can't. You've just got to prove it. We've got to deal with this. We brought this upon ourselves. We've got to deal with it."
  • Left tackle Jeff Backus isn't too worried about the loss at Atlanta. "We have a good group in here, and we all realize this is a team sport and a team game and it's going to take everybody in here to win ballgames," he said. "I don't think anybody expected to be down 21 so early in the game. We were stuck with that situation. When things aren't going right, you just have to fight and battle your way out of it. We weren't able to get it done. ... I just take this one week at a time. It's a first game. We didn't play well. There's a lot of things we need to improve."
  • Wide receiver Roy Williams wants the Lions to throw more often. "I love to run the ball, but there's nobody in this world that can stop our four-wide package, and it wasn't in," Williams said. "We get in two-minute late in the second (quarter) and we go down in score. That's what we're supposed to be in."
  • Victor DeGrate directly contradicts Tatum Bell's alibi in the Rudi Johnson luggage sage. Bell was caught on a surveillance camera taking Johnson's luggage out of the Lions' locker room Sept. 1, as Johnson was about to take his job as a Lions running back. Bell said it was an honest mistake. He said Victor DeGrate -- a friend and former teammate who had been cut Aug. 30 - asked him to pick up his backpack and drop it off at a friend's. He said he picked up the wrong bags and didn't know what happened to their contents. But DeGrate said he never asked Bell to pick up anything. He said he didn't leave behind any backpack and does not know the woman to whom Bell took the bags. "The way I just figure, he got caught up in a jam and that was the best thing going at the time, was to say what he said," DeGrate said.
  • The loss of Dan Campbell is significant. His blocking could have helped them as they try to establish the run, and he can catch, too. But he couldn't stay healthy - he played only two games before going on IR with an elbow problem last season, and now he has a hamstring problem - and the Lions are still three deep at tight end with Michael Gaines, Casey Fitzsimmons and John Owens.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 82 - Losses since Matt Millen took over as Lions president in 2001.
    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We went out there and played horrible." -- LB Ernie Sims, on the Lions' season-opening 34-21 loss at Atlanta.

    Player Notebook:

  • CB Leigh Bodden has won the starting job over Travis Fisher, but Fisher will still rotate with Bodden and Brian Kelly.
  • S Daniel Bullocks could start over Gerald Alexander. He seems fine after missing last season with a torn ACL.
  • LB Jordon Dizon will play more Sunday than the 14 snaps he played at Atlanta. He said he didn't miss a play call against the Falcons.
  • RG Manny Ramirez cold start over Stephen Peterman, who has struggled at times throughout training camp, the exhibition season and the opener.
  • RT George Foster remains ahead of first-round pick Gosder Cherilus and faces a tough task this week in Packers DE Aaron Kampman.

GAME PLAN: The Lions must stop the run and put pressure on a quarterback making one of his first NFL starts. They didn't do that in their opener against Atlanta and got pummeled. Their defense gave up big plays early and had trouble tackling throughout. They fell behind the Falcons by three touchdowns in the first quarter and cannot afford to do that against the Packers. Their best chance is to establish the run, control the clock and keep that defense off the field.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Lions WR Roy Williams vs. Packers CB Al Harris - Williams often struggles against, and he has great respect for the man who will be most responsible for covering him. Williams often says Harris is the toughest corner he faces, because Harris is so physical with him off the line. These are Williams' career yardage totals against the Packers: 13, 13, 53, 138, 11 and 32. That's one big performance among six games against a key division rival.

Lions RTs George Foster or Gosder Cherilus vs. Packers DE Aaron Kampman: The Lions face a dilemma: Should they start Foster, who gave a spotty performance in the opener at Atlanta, with John Abraham blowing past him with an inside move for a sack? Or should they give Cherilus, their first-round pick this year, his first NFL start? It seems they will start Foster. But either way, they are likely going to see mistakes against Kampman, one of the best left ends in the league, who had a sack in the Packers' opener. Kampman had two sacks in each of his last two games against Detroit.

Lions run defense vs. Packers RB Ryan Grant: The lions allowed 318 rushing yards Sunday at Atlanta. Grant rushed for 92 yards on 12 carries Monday night against Minnesota. The Lions' tackling was atrocious against the Falcons, who set a team rushing record and became the third team to reach 300 yards against the Lions. Grant did his damage against the NFL's top rush defense from last season - and he did it with a sore hamstring.

INJURY IMPACT: Besides third quarterback Drew Stanton's sprained thumb, which will keep him out at least another week, the Lions have no major injuries. Linebackers Paris Lenon (knee) and Ernie Sims (ankle) were limited in practice but are expected to play Sunday.

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