Lions Notebook: Game Week Preparations

Despite the turmoil in Detroit with the firing of president Matt Millen last week, the Lions seem relatively upbeat and ready to prove something against the Bears this Sunday at Ford Field. Injuries, notes and more inside.

The Lions are 0-3, and all their losses were ugly, double-digit affairs. The Bears are 2-2, and their two losses were close.

But despite the turmoil in Detroit with the firing of president Matt Millen last week, the Lions seem relatively upbeat and ready to prove something against the Bears this Sunday at Ford Field.

"We want to prove to ourselves - nobody else - what type of team we are," coach Rod Marinelli said. "And internally, that's when it really does mean something. We know we're capable of doing better, and I think inside, internally, for each man, that's something they're looking at. And we've got to go out and just do it now. We can't talk about it. We've got to go do it."

Bears coach Lovie Smith knows Marinelli well. They broke into the NFL together as Tampa Bay assistants in 1996. They shared the same little hotel room in the beginning and became close friends.

Asked what he expected from the Lions, he replied: "What do I expect from a Rod Marinelli-coached football team? Is that what you asked? I expect them to come out, play hard every down and that's about all you can ask from your ball club. ...

"I know what their record says right now. But we're talking about a team that swept us last year, so it should be a heck of a football game."

The Lions did sweep the Bears last year. But if they have any hope of sweeping them this year, they're going to have to make some major changes - not so much in approach, but in execution. They can't let their frustration get to them.

"Hopefully you take the frustration and you put it into fundamentals and execution and knowledge and preparation and then carry it into Sunday," Marinelli said. "If frustration goes the other way, you don't gain anything, to me. People in life get frustrated and they go haywire. I try to take the frustration and funnel it into what we do, our fundamentals. If we can get that done - and that's a goal - then we'll play really well."

The first quarter has been awful for the Lions. In their first two games, they fell behind, 21-0. In their third game, they fell behind, 21-3. The Bears jumped on Philadelphia with a no-huddle offense in the first half Sunday night, and the Lions must be prepared to see that.

"It's something we faced in the preseason, too," Marinelli said. "It's something you work on. The biggest thing is probably communication as much as anything."

The Lions need to be more aggressive on offense and defense to get off to a better start - throwing more often to wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams, blitzing when the four-man rush doesn't work.

The defense simply has not made enough plays, with only three sacks and zero interceptions.

"We've got to be able to get the rush and finish the plays off and contain a little bit better," Marinelli said. "We're a step slow right now. We're a step off or a step away - however you phrase that - to making these plays, and we've have to make these plays."

Bears quarterback Kyle Orton has been sacked 10 times and thrown four interceptions - two in each of his past two games.

"I think he's doing a nice job of working within the system," Marinelli said. "He's done a heck of a job of managing the game. He's smart with the ball. He's got a nice arm. He's got some nice weapons out there. I think he's doing exactly what Lovie wants him to do."


  • SERIES HISTORY: 157th meeting. Bears lead series, 87-64-5. Teams faced each other at Ford Field in Week 4 last year, and Lions won, 37-27. Lions swept the Bears last year, but Bears swept the Lions two seasons before that.
  • What changes will the Lions make on offense after the bye? Williams, who has been campaigning for more four-wide receiver sets, did not sound thrilled. "We've got a little something up our sleeve, but it's all the same," Williams said. "Nothing dramatic."
  • Rookie running back Kevin Smith declined to comment on his status after sounding off about his demotion to second string Monday. The Lions are still high on Smith, even though veteran Rudi Johnson has taken over the starting spot. "You need two good backs," Marinelli said. "Eventually when things are humming, you'd like to have two good backs playing for you."
  • BY THE NUMBERS: 32 -- Lions' rank in points allowed, rushing defense, total defense and turnover ratio. They rank 31st in rushing.
  • QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm really enjoying the process. I am. I hate to say it, but I am. These guys are fun to coach. I've got to get them to let it go on Sunday. That's why I've just got to keep working at it. And they will. I believe they will." -- Coach Rod Marinelli, on trying to rebound from an 0-3 start.
  • Rookie LB Jordon Dizon is not yet ready to play in the middle, even though he had the bye week to get even more comfortable with the system. The Lions simply trust veteran Paris Lenon to make all the calls.
  • RG Stephen Peterman will get the cast off his broken hand Friday, but his chances of playing Sunday are dim. He likely will be replaced by Manny Ramirez.
  • OT George Foster did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury. The Lions did not provide an update on his injury or his prospects for Sunday.
  • CB Travis Fisher was limited in practice Wednesday because of a groin injury, but he moved around well and likely will be able to play Sunday.
  • WR Roy Williams has complained about not getting the ball enough, and he doesn't seem happy about the adjustments the Lions made over the bye. He thinks Calvin Johnson will see more of an increase in catches than him.
  • QB Drew Stanton's sprained thumb has healed and he will be available to play, but he likely will remain as the third quarterback despite some calls for him to start.

    Game Day:

  • GAME PLAN: The Lions cannot afford to dig themselves another deep hole. In their first two games, they fell behind, 21-0. In their third game, they fell behind, 21-3. They need to be more aggressive on offense to put up points early, getting the ball to wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams. The defense must be more aggressive to harass quarterback Kyle Orton, blitzing more often, because the four-man rush has not worked. The Lions have only three sacks in three games.
  • MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Lions WR Calvin Johnson vs. Bears pass defense - Johnson has 17 catches for 376 yards and two touchdowns in three games. He'll face Bears pass defense that has five interceptions. The Lions have been falling behind badly and need to be more aggressive on offense to keep from digging another big hole, in case the defense keeps giving up points. The Lions might give the ball to Johnson earlier and even more often, even if the Bears sit back in a Cover Two to try to take away the deep pass.
    Lions FB Jerome Felton vs. Bears LB Brian Urlacher: Felton is 6-0 and 246 pounds, while Urlacher is 6-4 and 258. The matchup between Urlacher and former Lions fullback Cory Schlesinger used to be a classic. The collisions cost Schlesinger many a face mask. Now it's Felton's job to go against Urlacher - and Lance Briggs, too - as the Lions try to raise their running game from second-worst in the NFL.
    Lions pass defense vs. Bears QB Kyle Orton: The Lions have three sacks and zero interceptions. But Orton has been sacked 10 times and has thrown four interceptions - two in each of his past two games. The Lions simply have not made enough plays on defense. They have lost three games to teams with a quarterback who had never started an NFL regular-season game before this season. Orton is a more stationary target in the pocket. They have to put pressure on him and make plays on the ball.
  • INJURY IMPACT: With RB Stephen Peterman likely out because of a broken hand, the Lions must turn to Manny Ramirez, a fourth-round pick last year who has played only one NFL game. The Lions like Ramirez, a road-grader, but he has little experience and the Lions' running game ranks second-worst in the league already.

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