NFC North notes

Here's a look at what's new this week with the Packers' NFC North neighbors:<P>

CHICAGO BEARS (0-1)

This week's opponent is trying to regroup after losing their season opener 20-16 to Detroit.

The Lions used two huge plays - neither one of them on offense - to ruin the coaching debut of Chicago's Lovie Smith.

Bracy Walker delivered a 92-yard return touchdown after teammate Shaun Rogers blocked a field goal attempt in the third quarter. Walker sealed the victory with an interception of a Rex Grossman pass in the end zone with 18 seconds left in the game.

Chicago became the first team to lose at home to the Lions in 24 games.

Five players landed on the injury list with hamstring problems. LB Brian Urlacher, DB R.W. McQuarters are questionable; TE Desmond Clark and P Brad Maynard are probable and LB Marcus Reese is out. Also out for the Bears' clash with the Pack is defensive back/returnman Jerry Azumah, who returned a kickoff 88 yards for the touchdown in the teams' last meeting.

Now, they've got bigger fish to fry. First-year coach Lovie Smith took some heat for opening his Bears tenure by talking about the Packers. He defended his focus on his team's most heated rivalry. "I'm saying the same thing I said back then," Smith said. "In order for us to get to where we need to go, we have to be able to beat the teams that have been at the top of the standings and that's where Green Bay has been and that's what our goal still is."

The Bears will have to bank on a big game from QB Rex Grossman, who suffered through a tough afternoon vs. Detroit. He had a fumble and two interceptions, including one in the end zone which sealed the loss in the final seconds.

"Normally there's a big improvement from that first to that second game," Smith said. "We're excited about getting a chance to play Green Bay this week. We realize who Green Bay is and what's at stake with the game. We realize the streak and all things like that. We're just anxious to play somebody right now and what better team to play than them." DETROIT LIONS (1-0)

The Lions ended a 24-game road losing streak with a come-from-behind 20-16 win over the Chicago Bears.

Detroit got a lot of bad news to go along with their opening day win. They lost WR Charles Rogers for the season to an injury that must feel like the worse kind of deja vu. Rogers, the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft, broke his collarbone in the win over the Bears - the same injury that ended his rookie season after just five games and 22 catches.

Rogers was injured as he went for a pass in the first quarter Sunday. X-rays showed that the break is near the site of his previous clavicle injury. At least this time it happened in a game. Last year Rogers suffered the broken collar bone in a bye-week practice.

The 23-year-old Rogers will have surgery in the next several days and will be placed on injured reserve, according to Lions coach Steve Mariucci. "I just spoke with Charles, and he's very disappointed," Mariucci said. "I told him that's he not to blame. He's 23 and he's got a lot of football ahead of him."

Cornerback Dre' Bly, also injured in the Bears game, will miss the next two games with a sprained knee ligament.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-0)

The Vikings got past the Cowboys, but they will still be without starting RB Michael Bennett for a tough Monday Night matchup with Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field.

Minnesota coach Mike Tice said that Bennett's knee is feeling better after a workout, but will hold him out again in Week 2.

Tice said he feels comfortable with his backfield depth, which includes backup Onterrio Smith who rushed for 76 yards and caught a 63-yard TD pass vs. Dallas. However, Moe Williams who aterted for Bennett, suffered a sprained ankle in the opening game and Smith is awaiting his appeal of a four-game substance-abuse suspension.

Williams won't practice Wednesday or Thursday but is expected to play Monday Night.

"We'll see how that goes. He's a tough guy."


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