With Jon Kitna on injured reserve, the Lions will have a chance to evaluate young quarterbacks Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton. Orlovsky is the starter now. Stanton, who has missed a lot of practice time because of injuries, might get an opportunity once he gets up to speed.
Safety Gerald Alexander's injury should give Kalvin Pearson more of an opportunity. Pearson played well Sunday at Minnesota.
GAME PLAN: The Lions finally showed up on defense Sunday at Minnesota, blitzing more often and getting more pressure. They likely will do the same this Sunday at Houston. They shouldn't be surprised by what they see from the Texans' offense, which resembles the Lions' with a zone running scheme. The Lions will play it close to the vest offensively with quarterback Dan Orlovsky starting. Look for them to try to establish the run.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Lions RB Kevin Smith vs. Texans run defense - Smith busted a career-long 50-yard run Sunday at Minnesota. He'll face a Texans defense that ranks 24th against the run. The Lions drafted Smith at the top of the third round this year (64th overall). He has 42 carries for 195 yards. The Texans, who run the same type of zone scheme, drafted Steve Slaton later in the third round (89th overall); he has 72 carries for 343 yards. Smith has an opportunity to show the Lions made the right choice.
Lions pass defense vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson: Detroit's pass defense ranks third from the bottom in the NFL. Johnson has 34 catches for 488 yards, ranking him among the league leaders. The Texans drafted Johnson third overall in 2003, right after the Lions drafted WR Charles Rogers, who is out of the NFL. The Lions' pass defense looked better Sunday at Minnesota, with five sacks and an interception, but the Lions still gave up another big play - an 86-yard touchdown - and Johnson is capable of burning them.
Lions pass protection vs. Texans DE Mario Williams: The Lions allowed six sacks last week at Minnesota, while Williams has six sacks, one off the NFL lead. Williams not only gets sacks, he puts pressure on the quarterback all the time. He'll be going up against veteran left tackle Jeff Backus, but Backus might need help at times.
INJURY IMPACT: Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (concussion), right guard Stephen Peterman (hand), running back Kevin Smith (shoulder) and defensive tackle Chuck Darby (calf) should be able to play at or near full strength. But cornerback Travis Fisher (knee) might be less than 100 percent, if he plays at all. CB Leigh Bodden (knee) did not practice on Friday. DE Corey Smith (hamstring) had limited participation in practice. All players are questionable for Sunday's game.
HOUSTON: S Dominique Barber (hamstring) and RB Chris Taylor (quadricep) did not practice on Friday. Barber and Taylor are out; and T Duane Brown (ankle), TE Mark Bruener (hamstring) and RB Ahman Green (foot) are probable.