Around the NFC North

Why was Tommie Harris benched in Chicago? Why isn't Lions rookie Ndamokung Suh sorry about committing a costly penalty? And why is Packers safety Nick Collins still being investigated by the league?


Coach Lovie Smith says lack of motivation is not the reason for Tommie Harris' benching.

"Tommie is always motivated," Smith said. "I have no complaints about how Tommie Harris has done anything this offseason, or what he's done on the practice field. We just thought based on (lack of) performance that someone else deserved an opportunity to see exactly what we had in Marcus (Harrison). We were saying the same thing about Marcus, but he hadn't gotten an opportunity to play. So I don't have any complaints about Tommie. Tommie will go through practice this week and may be (active) this week."

What, then, IS the problem?

"That's what we're trying to figure out, all right?" Smith said. "You don't have to figure all that out after three games."

  • Matt Toeaina had an inkling he'd get his first NFL start Monday night, but he tried to take it in stride and not let his emotions get out of control.

    "I kind of sensed that earlier in the week when I was getting all the reps with the ones," he said. "I was surprised, but then I got over it because I didn't want to come in and be all in shock. I had to act like I've been here before."

    Toeaina, who was signed by the Bears off the Bengals' practice squad near the end of the 2007 season, started in place of 2004 first-round pick Tommie Harris. The 6-foot-2, 308-pound Toeaina had played in just five NFL games before this season.

    Although the Bears struggled as a team in the preseason, Toeaina's impressive play earned him a solid position the Bears' four-man tackle rotation. Toeaina said the Bears' unimpressive preseason was misleading.

    "People doubted us because we were 0-4 in the preseason," he said. "But the preseason's pretty much for evaluation, seeing who's capable of being on the team for the (regular) season. We're off to a 3-0 start, a perfect start. We can't get any better than that. We just have to keep it moving."

  • Quarterback Jay Cutler has already been sacked eight times this season, knocked down at least that many times when he wasn't sacked and roughed up in general. But it hasn't caused him to miss a single snap or appeared to have bothered him in the least.

    Against the Packers, linebacker Clay Matthews grabbed Cutler's facemask in the process of the quarterback's 10-yard run, adding 15 yards to the play. In the fourth quarter, linebacker Frank Zombo drove his helmet into Cutler's chin, drawing 15 more yards for roughing the passer and negating a would-be interception by Nick Barnett.

    Every time Cutler gets hit, he gets back up. Hopefully for the Bears, he doesn't have to keep proving his toughness every week.

    "I've come to expect Jay not blinking when he takes a shot," Bears coach Lovie Smith. "He's a tough guy. We'd like to have him take less hits of course, and we'll keep working on that. But that's a part of it. We played a good defense (Monday) night. They were coming after him quite a bit. But he stood in there and made plays."

  • Cornerback Tim Jennings didn't have much advance warning before he was thrust into Monday night's game after starter Zack Bowman missed a tackle late in the first quarter.

    "One play they just told me to be ready, and then the next play they threw me in there," the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jennings said. "But it's not my first rodeo. I played a lot at Indy."

    Jennings spent his first four years with the Colts and played in 31 games the past two seasons with 17 starts. He was jacked up Monday night to get a chance to contribute to his new team.

    "I just want to be a part of it out there and play with some of the best guys in the league," he said. "It felt good to be out there with those guys."

    BY THE NUMBERS: 12 — Devin Hester's combined kick-return touchdowns. His 62-yard punt-return TD Monday night was the eighth of his career, along with four kickoff-return TDs. The combination of 12 ties him for second in NFL history with Dante Hall and Eric Metcalf, just one behind Brian Mitchell's record of 13.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Some of those, you hope the next play is a run, but it doesn't always happen like that. I got hit a lot in college too, so it's been happening for a while. Those hits are tough when you take them in the head like that under the chin. And then you know you have to get right back up, the clock is ticking." — Jay Cutler on the helmet to the chin he took from Packers LB Frank Zombo that resulted in a 15-yard penalty and helped get the Bears in position for a game-tying field goal.


    DT Ndamukong Suh cost the Lions a turnover Sunday when a sack-fumble was nullified by his roughing the passer penalty. Suh was hardly repentant.

    "I couldn't care less about the penalties," he said. "Penalties don't mean anything to me. Obviously it was a mistake at the time. I've made some good plays and I've made some bad plays. That happened to be a bad play and they made the call. So be it. I am going to continue to get after the quarterback. I am still going to reach for them no matter what. I may try and get at them a different way but I am not changing the way I play."

    Suh didn't lose more than four games in either of his last two seasons at Nebraska, but he's on the verge of losing his first four games as a pro.

    "I am definitely not used to losing but there are certain ways to deal with it," he said. "I don't think we've played our best game so far in these three losses. Until we play our best game, and the coaches and the players agree that it was the best game, and we still lose, then it becomes a problem."

  • QB Matthew Stafford began throwing on Wednesday, out of sight of the media, and coach Jim Schwartz wasn't about to give any details. "He's doing more and more," Schwartz said. "There's a lot of steps through that (throwing the ball). There's range of motion stuff, there's different objects, there's active throwing and there's working with a receiver. I don't want to go into where he is in that progression. "It's not pain level or comfort level. It's about his throwing motion and ability to make throws."

  • Here's the dilemma the Lions face. They will give RB Jahvid Best every opportunity to play though the pain of his turf toe Sunday, but there is a chance he won't be able to finish even if he can start. They won't have RB Aaron Brown (broken hand), either. So, they will have Maurice Morris ready to start, if needed, and they will activate Kevin Smith for the first time this season.

    Fullback Jerome Felton is also available to play tailback if needed.

    The absence of Brown, though, also leaves a void on special teams. Neither Morris, Smith nor Felton has played special teams this season.

    So the Lions will press both Morris and WR Bryant Johnson into special-teams duty this week.

    The Lions are also thin at receiver, with Burleson (ankle) listed as doubtful Friday. Calvin and Bryant Johnson will start, with Derrick Williams as the third receiver.

    Return specialist Stefan Logan has been getting receiver reps in practice, though the Lions are loathe to use him there. Logan has also spent time at running back on the scout teams.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 3 — The number of wins the Lions have in their last 43 games, the fewest in NFL history over any 43-game span.

    22 — Consecutive road losses going into Green Bay.

    8 — Number of Lions head coaches over the span of the 19 straight losses in Green Bay.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a great player and they won the game. He has a right to say whatever he wants. We'll play them again." — Coach Jim Schwartz reacting to Vikings DT Pat Williams' comment that the Lions act tough ‘but they ain't tough.'


    Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins is at the center of an investigation by the NFL this week. The league is looking into a confrontation that occurred between Collins and a fan shortly after the Packers' 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Milwaukee's FOX-TV affiliate, WITI, filmed the exchange in which Collins is seen yelling from the tunnel area leading to the Packers' locker room at the fan above in the stands. Collins also appears to throw his mouthpiece in the direction of the fan.

    The TV station interviewed Collins afterward, and he said the fan spit on him and used a racial slur. Collins, in turn, apologized for his actions in the incident.

    "I understand Nick's story, as far as what happened and what our security people that were there (said), and I support Nick 100 percent," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said.

    McCarthy discussed the matter with his players in the team meeting before practice Wednesday.

    "I addressed the situation and just reinforced that we need to be smart in those types of situations," McCarthy said.

  • The lackluster production from Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn in a platoon at halfback has fans clamoring for the team to go outside the organization for a reliable fill-in for Ryan Grant, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1.

    While there's been rumblings that general manager Ted Thompson has put out feelers for former first-round draft pick Marshawn Lynch of the Buffalo Bills, the Packers may first see what they can get out of another option on their roster.

    McCarthy indicated Wednesday that rookie Dimitri Nance could be up for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

    Nance was deactivated Monday after the undrafted rookie had been slow to grasp the Packers scheme. They signed him off the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad to replace Grant on the roster, and Nance had a cameo role in the Week 2 win over the Buffalo Bills.

    "I think he's on target. I'm hopeful he can help us this week," McCarthy said. "I'm really going to give him an opportunity to maybe even get up on special teams. ... He's fighting for some playing time."

    Jackson and Kuhn, normally a fullback, have combined for only 108 yards in 33 carries, or an average of 3.3 yards per rush, the last two games.

  • Defensive coordinator Dom Capers cut undrafted rookie Sam Shields some slack after the nickel back gave up a few big pass plays by the Bears on Monday. It was the first time an opponent tried to pick on Shields.

    Chicago's Jay Cutler hooked up with Johnny Knox for completions of 36 and 31 yards and also exploited Shields on a 16-yard throw to Devin Hester.

    "It wasn't all Sam now," Capers said. "Cutler can throw those balls in there."

  • The Packers filled out the eight-player practice squad by re-signing offensive tackle Chris Campbell, an undrafted rookie, on Wednesday.

    The 6-foot-5, 328-pound Campbell started the season on the practice squad, but Green Bay released him last week.

  • The Packers will commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October during Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.

    The color pink will be in abundance throughout the stadium, including on the uniforms and equipment of the players, coaches and officials.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 6 — Packers coaches this season who were playing in the NFL in 1992, when Green Bay started its current streak of 19 home wins over the Detroit Lions. Those former players are assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Winston Moss, running backs coach Edgar Bennett, offensive line coach James Campen, assistant offensive line coach Jerry Fontenot, outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene and safeties coach Darren Perry.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You let a game get away that you definitely should have won to a team that's not better than you. They are not better than our team. They're not." — Cornerback Charles Woodson on the Chicago Bears, who beat the mistake-prone Packers 20-17 on a last-second field goal Monday night.

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