Around the NFC North

Fallout from the Bears' big victory over the Packers continues from both camps. Meanwhile, the Lions are recovering from their loss to the Vikings and have to prepare for the Packers.


CHICAGO BEARS

If nothing else, the lineup changes that the Bears made for Monday night's 20-17 victory over the Packers proves that their depth is impressive.

Tommie Harris, who started the first two games, was one of the eight inactives Monday night, and he sat out due to a coach's decision based on lack of performance rather than because of any injury.

Harris appeared healthier this year during training than at any time in the past couple years, as he suited up for every practice and played in every preseason game. But the 2004 first-round draft choice had a total of 1 tackle in the first two games.

Harris was replaced in the starting lineup by Matt Toeaina, while underachieving Marcus Harrison, a third-round pick in 2008, was active for the first time this season. Harris was benched for one game last season and suspended for one game in 2008 for missing treatment sessions on his injured knee along with multiple team meetings.

"We have 45 guys that you go with (on game day)," coach Lovie Smith said. "We have everybody healthy right now. Just felt like we wanted to get a look at Marcus Harrison and Henry Melton inside a little bit. Just performance based. Tommie's been doing everything we've asked him to do, (but) you have decisions."

Wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, who was targeted a team-high 10 times in the season opener and caught five pass for 71 yards but also dropped three and was hesitant to go over the middle, was also inactive Monday night.

Aromashodu played just one snap a week earlier against the Cowboys.

"We have good players on the sideline right now," Smith said. "We'll go to practice next week and see who gives us the best chance to win."

Earl Bennett, who missed most of training camp and all of the preseason with a hamstring injury, has taken Aromashodu's place as the third receiver. Bennett caught five passes for just 29 yards last week, but is willing to make catches over the middle. He had three catches for 21 yards Monday night.

Starting cornerback Zack Bowman was also benched after one quarter Monday night in favor of Tim Jennings, who recovered the fourth-quarter fumble that led to the Bears' winning drive.

With left tackle Chris Williams still out with a hamstring injury and inactive, right tackle Frank Omiyale moved over to that side and was replaced by Kevin Shaffer at right tackle.

Rookie J'Marcus Webb, as planned, played the first series of the second quarter in place of Shaffer and saw additional time in the second half.


DETROIT LIONS

If you thought the Lions' offense was conservative Sunday, imagine what they are going to throw at the aggressive Packers' defense without quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder) and very likely with running back Jahvid Best (toe) and wide receiver Nate Burleson (ankle) playing at diminished capacity.

"We aren't generating points but we are generating offense," coach Jim Schwartz said. "I think we have been able to move the ball, but this game is about scoring points."

The Lions haven't had much of a run game with Best, averaging 66 yards a game, and they've scored just 15 points in the second half all season. Those 15 points, and the majority of the Lions' second-half offense, have come when they were at least two touchdowns behind and the opposing defense was in prevent.

Still, Schwartz said the Lions would not be changing their personality on offense. They aren't suddenly going to become a swashbuckling, devil-may-care team. For one, they don't have the weapons to do that and two, Schwartz doesn't see anything good coming from that.

"That's what gets you into trouble," he said. "That's what leads to worse things happening. You have to be resilient and you can't forget who you are. You can't try to do too much or try to go outside your personality.

"We just need to get players back on the field and we also need to play within ourselves. We can't have one person trying to do too much or one position group trying to do too much. Then you get into dangerous territory."

Remember that Schwartz is a disciple of Jeff Fisher and Fisher's teams relied on stingy, punishing defense and an efficient, no-risk (read, boring) offense. Schwartz isn't going to deviate from that same philosophy.

NOTES

  • Coach Jim Schwartz chafed at the notion that the Lions weren't playing aggressive enough on offense. "I think our aggressiveness is fine," he said. "We need to play better. We don't need to play more aggressive. We don't need to muff a punt when we're up 7-0. We don't need to miss a field goal. We don't need penalties to overrule turnovers. We don't need to give up 80-yard touchdown runs. All these things can be fixed and none of those things have anything to do with being more aggressive. They have everything to do with being more efficient and making the plays that come to us."

  • RB Kevin Smith, nine months removed from major knee surgery, could be back in uniform Sunday. "I am not going to make any commitment that I don't have any control over, but it looks like I could be getting some action," he said. The Lions might not have a choice. Starter Jahvid Best has turf toe and is day-to-day. Even if he plays Sunday, a toe injury is easily aggravated. Back-up Aaron Brown also left the game in Minnesota on Sunday with a broken finger. That leaves only Smith and Maurice Morris.

  • QB Matthew Stafford is scheduled to begin light throwing on Wednesday. It is the first time he's thrown a football since injuring his right shoulder in Week One. There is virtually no chance that he will be back this week. The target remains Oct. 10 vs. St. Louis.

  • RB Aaron Brown broke a bone in his hand, which facilitated Smith's return. Brown could miss up to four weeks. The Lions will go into Sunday with three tailbacks, Best (slowed by a turf toe injury), Smith and Maurice Morris. Fullback Jerome Felton is also healthy.

  • TE Brandon Pettigrew has made a similarly impressive comeback from major knee surgery. He's started the first three games and has 14 catches for 158 yards. The problem is, he has four drops, including a would-be touchdown in Week One and two straight the killed a drive last Sunday.

  • WR Nate Burleson (ankle) is going the extra distance to get himself back on the field this week. He has purchased an oxygen chamber and an Accelerated Recovery Performance machine for his house. "I've got everything," he said. "It's like the fountain of youth. I want to do everything I can at home as well as when I am here. I want to whatever I can do to stick around." Burleson said he plans to play Sunday, though he has to prove to the coaches he can run full speed and cut first.

  • WR Calvin Johnson had seven touches Sunday. One was a reverse that gained two yards, another was a bubble screen that was stopped for a loss. The Lions threw downfield to him twice, once incomplete and once for a 21-yard gain. Blame can be spread evenly between the Lions' offensive plan, the absence of Stafford and to Johnson himself. He's got to find a way to get himself more involved.


    GREEN BAY PACKERS

    The ugliness that came of the Packers' 20-17 loss at the Chicago Bears on Monday night spilled over to an unpleasant incident in the moments afterward at Soldier Field.

    Packers Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins had an altercation with a Bears fan as Collins was leaving the field and heading into a tunnel to the locker room.

    The FOX TV affiliate (WITI) in Milwaukee filmed the confrontation, in which Collins later said the fan directed a racial epithet toward the African-American player and Collins responded by throwing his mouthpiece at the man.

    Collins apologized for his actions in an interview with the FOX station.

    The Packers came out of the hard-fought battle between the NFC's last remaining unbeaten teams a frustrated bunch after they were done in by a multitude of mistakes on special teams and set a team record with 18 penalties for 152 yards.

    "That's a lack of focus, a lack of discipline that we displayed out there," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "We've got a great team, they played well, but I definitely feel like we could've beat ‘em. We took a crap down our own legs. That's what it boils down to."

    Twelve of the penalties came in the second half, and a 13th infraction in those final two quarters was declined.

    The Packers had only eight penalties in the first two games after they led the league with 118 last season.

    "I don't know if it's a snowball effect," right tackle Mark Tauscher said. "It just comes from not doing what you're supposed to be doing. Anytime you have that many penalties, it's going to be tough to win."

    Tauscher had three of the eight penalties called on Green Bay's offensive linemen, none bigger than a holding call on Julius Peppers that wiped out a 15-yard touchdown catch by Jermichael Finley. Two plays later, Peppers blocked a 37-yard field-goal attempt by Mason Crosby to spoil an 8 1/2-minute drive and keep the Packers lead at 10-7.

    "You've got to give their crowd some credit. They were loud," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "I was screaming as loud as I can at times. It's very uncharacteristic for our guys to have that many penalties.

    "We took points off the board, and we took big plays off the board as well."

    The Packers also had two fourth-quarter interceptions negated by defensive penalties, including pass interference by rookie safety Morgan Burnett on Collins' would-be pick inside the two- minute warning. That set up Robbie Gould's 19-yard, game-winning field goal four plays later with four seconds left.

    NOTES

  • Wide receiver James Jones was kicking himself for his fumble that enabled the Bears to go on their game-winning drive in the final two minutes for the Gould field goal.

    Brian Urlacher knocked the football out of Jones' left hand, which was to the inside of the field of play, as Jones ran along the sideline on a short pass from Aaron Rodgers.

    "Very frustrating, very disappointing," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "If you're running to the right, you should have the ball in your right hand. You got taught that when you played in seventh grade."
    Urlacher and fellow linebacker Lance Briggs chased Jones from behind on the play.

    The ball rolled behind Jones and stopped short of going out of bounds, and the Bears recovered it at the Packers' 46-yard line with a little more than two minutes to play.

    "I put the blame on (me) for giving the ball up at the end of the game. I've got to make a play," Jones said. "You pride yourself on wanting the ball in those situations; you've got to make a play."

  • McCarthy, who unsuccessfully challenged that fumble and thus lost a timeout, said he opted to not allow the Bears score a touchdown when they were close to the goal line in the final minute.
    The Packers used their last timeout with 53 seconds left. The Bears ran one more play for no gain from the 1 before taking the clock down to 8 seconds and then kicking the decisive field goal.

    "I did not consider letting them score at the end," McCarthy said. "I felt that if they missed the field goal, we'd win the game (in overtime). It was talked about, but that was not the decision I went with."

  • FS Nick Collins suffered a knee sprain early in the Packers' 20-17 loss at the Chicago Bears on Monday night, but he returned and finished the game.

  • TE Jermichael Finley, who had a career-high-tying nine catches for 115 yards, left the game for a stretch in the fourth quarter because of cramping. Finley returned to action late in the final period after receiving fluids intravenously in the locker room.

  • LT Chad Clifton made the start after there was some uncertainty last week about whether he would be able to play because of his chronically sore knees. Clifton did have to leave Monday's game for a play after being rolled up from behind, but he returned late in the first half and finished the game.

  • OLB Brad Jones was deactivated because of a knee injury he sustained in the previous game. Jones had some limited work in practice during the week, but the knee didn't respond as well as the team was hoping it would.

  • LB Frank Zombo, an undrafted rookie, made his starting debut in place of Jones. Zombo recorded a sack of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the first half but had a roughing-the-passer penalty on Cutler that negated a Nick Barnett interception in the fourth quarter.

  • FB Korey Hall returned to action after he missed a game because of a hip injury.

  • DE Mike Neal, a second-round draft pick this year, was out for the third straight game because of a rib injury.

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