NFC North news, notes and quotes

The Bears knocked off one of the NFC's stronger teams, but they aren't satisfied. The Lions were allowed to celebrate their win too much, as their coach was right there pointing out mistakes. And the Packers may have gotten more dangerous with their rookie return man.

Chicago Bears

Even though they had a surprisingly easy time dispatching the Falcons in Week 1, the Bears weren't satisfied with their overall performance.

And they realize they may have a more difficult assignment this week against another NFC South powerhouse when they take on the Saints in New Orleans.

"That's the way you want to start it off," coach Lovie Smith said of the 30-12 victory. "(But) we're still looking at video, and we're seeing a lot of mistakes. A lot of opportunities we let slip by.

"You're supposed to win at home, especially with your crowd into the football game the way ours was. We have a big test coming up on the road."

A Bears offensive line that is still in the formative stage allowed Jay Cutler to be sacked five times while throwing for 312 yards against the Falcons.

"We did a good job, but obviously Jay got hit, and we can't allow that to happen," center Roberto Garza said. "And some of those run plays, we have to stay on our guys a little bit longer and we have to create some movement. We're on track. It was a first game, and we have a long way to go. We're comfortable where we're at now, but we still have a lot of work ahead."

They may also have some tinkering in their future if Lance Louis' sprained right ankle lingers. When he departed in the second quarter, veteran Chris Spencer stepped in without any noticeable decline in performance, even though most of Spencer's training camp and preseason reps came at center, where he has spent almost all of his playing time in six previous seasons.

Since Garza spent the vast majority of his first 10 seasons at right guard, another option could have been moving him one position over and inserting Spencer at center.

"A lot of thought (was given to that)," Smith said. "That's why we were really pleased with what (Spencer) was able to do. He hasn't gotten a lot of reps at the guard position. But when your number's called ... we normally will dress seven offensive linemen, one to (back up) on the outside and one inside.

"Chris jumped right in and did a pretty good job for a guy that hasn't gotten a lot of reps. If Lance can't go this week, we'll have decisions to make. But it gives us a lot of flexibility when two of our players have played both positions."

On the outside, rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi and second-year left tackle J'Marcus Webb endured some growing pains. Webb was beaten for a sack by elite pass rusher John Abraham and called for two holding penalties.

"I know the offensive line is going to get blamed for everything that ever happens if there's a sack," Smith said. "I understand that. But there's a lot more than that. It's us getting rid of the ball quicker. It's a combination of all (things).

"We're not Super Bowl ready or anything like that. We're just getting started. Hopefully we can make a lot of progress this week."


  • RB Marion Barber (calf), who was inactive Sunday, is expected to return to practice this week.

  • QB Jay Cutler is 23-0 when he has a passer rating of over 100, as he did Sunday (107.8) in the 30-12 victory over the Falcons.

  • LB Brian Urlacher's interception Sunday was the 19th of his career, and the touchdown he scored on a 12-yard fumble return was the fourth score of his career (two fumbles, one interception, one reception).

  • CB Charles Tillman's forced fumble on Sunday was the 25th of his career, more than any other cornerback in the NFL since he entered the league in 2003.

  • WR Johnny Knox had three catches for 60 yards playing behind Roy Williams in the opener, but if Williams (groin) is out this week, Knox should see his numbers increase.

    Detroit Lions

    The players knew it was coming. They may have won the season-opener in Tampa on Sunday, but they didn't win any favors from the coaching staff.

    "We got cussed out," left guard Rob Sims said. "We expected that. That's part of growing and part of what we need. When I first got here we were just kind of stuck in those losing ways. Some stuff we did because that's what losing teams do. Some of that stuff is still part of us and we are trying to break away from that.

    "This was good. He's a great coach and him coming at us and checking us after a win like that is big. It's going to help us down the road."

    Coach Jim Schwartz didn't mince his words on Sunday, saying his team was "lucky to win," and he didn't pull back much on Monday.

    "We did some great things in the game but we also did some bone-headed things that almost caused us to lose the game," he said. "Special teams? We're a much better special teams group than we showed. We did a lot of uncharacteristic things on offense. We played poorly in the red zone. We played poorly on third down. We had a turnover that ended up being a touchdown. We have up a long kickoff return.

    "There's plenty of room for all groups to get better."

    What chafed him the most were the mental mistakes, specifically a personal foul penalty against right tackle Gosder Cherilus late in the game that set up a potential game-tying final drive for the Buccaneers. Right guard Stephen Peterman also had an unnecessary personal foul penalty in the first half.

    "We didn't show our best," he said. "Coaches learn to live with physical mistakes. But some of the things we did didn't show us in the best of light and it's my job to make sure it doesn't happen again."

    The players took their medicine.

    "Nobody is walking around here talking about good we are or how great this team is," said defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. "We got a huge win and we feel like we need to get better. If we continue making the mistakes we made on Sunday, it's going to get us beat."


  • FS Louis Delmas suffered a hip pointer on the last play of the game. He said on Monday that he was fine and didn't expect to miss any time this week.

  • RB Maurice Morris fumbled twice in his four carries (the Lions retained both). Morris missed all of the preseason with a broken right hand, but he didn't blame the hand for the fumbles. "It's just getting used to playing again," he said, "getting back to the five points of pressure and getting used to guys around me attacking the ball."

  • WR Maurice Stovall (hand) took treatment on Monday. Coach Jim Schwartz said he didn't think the injury was serious, but tests were still being taken.

  • RB Keiland Williams was a somewhat surprising healthy scratch on Sunday. Explained coach Jim Schwartz, "The decision was we get to dress 46 and you can only have so many running backs and so many wide receivers."

  • QB Matthew Stafford's 305-yard passing day was just the third by a Lions quarterback on opening day. The only other quarterback to do it was Bobby Layne and he did it twice, in 1951 and 1953. Stafford's 265-yard first half was the third most since 1991.

  • PK Jason Hanson's nine points Sunday put him at 1,899 for his career. With his next point he will become the seventh player in NFL history to score 1,900.


    A 21-point outburst by the offense in the first quarter and a huge goal-line stop by the defense to end the game were the perfect bookends for the Packers to usher in the 2011 season Thursday night with a victory over the New Orleans Saints.

    Yet, what many in Green Bay's locker room couldn't stop talking about as maybe the most critical component of the 42-34 outcome in an intense league opener at Lambeau Field was rookie Randall Cobb's scintillating kickoff return.

    Cobb tied an NFL record by spinning and sprinting 108 yards from near the back of the south end zone to the north end zone for a third-quarter touchdown that proved to be big down the stretch.

    "He's a young guy with an opportunity to make plays on this team," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "He went out there with poise and showed us he's a playmaker. That was a very big point in the game for us to get points (on) special teams."

    Cobb's rousing runback - matching New England's Ellis Hobbs' 108-yard feat against the New York Jets in 2007 - put the Packers ahead, 35-20.

    What had the makings of a runaway win for Green Bay didn't come to fruition, however, as the Saints nearly erased their second 15-deficit of the game (42-27). Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass before the two-minute warning and then drove New Orleans to the edge of the end zone in the game's final possession, only to have rookie Mark Ingram's run from the 1 stopped for no gain on an extra play after a pass-interference penalty.

    That made Cobb's smashing pro debut, which included a touchdown catch, all the more sweet.

    "It was amazing," he said. "The feeling of being in Lambeau Field and just having all of the guys around me coming off of the Super Bowl (title) and just trying to do anything I can to contribute, and I certainly tried to make the most of my opportunities (Thursday)."

    The dynamic Cobb, a second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, fessed up that he erred on both of his scoring plays.

    His 32-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the first quarter that put the Packers ahead 21-7 came about after Cobb ran the wrong route.

    "We didn't have offseason workouts (during the lockout), but surprisingly, I was able to read his body language there," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.

    The 5-foot-10 Cobb, a natural for the slot, had two catches for 35 yards.

    His exploits on the kickoff return - the Packers' first such scoring play since Allen Rossum on Nov. 19, 2000 - created a buzz the rest of the night after Cobb's decision to run the football out of the end zone that far deep had the coaches initially cursing his name.

    "Trust me, thank God the kid didn't hear what we said on the headsets because we weren't cheering for him until he sprung out of that tackle at (Green Bay's) 25-yard line," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I was not real happy with his decision, but I was extremely happy with the result. That's probably one of the best returns I've seen.

    "He's a gifted young man with a lot of good football in front of him."

    McCarthy reiterated Friday that Cobb erred in judgment to make the runback, but the coach unequivocally tolerated the end result.

    "Minus decision. Probably minus assignment, too. (But) it was a helluva technique as far as running the ball," McCarthy said.


  • CB Tramon Williams sustained what was diagnosed Friday morning as a right shoulder bruise toward the end of the Packers' 42-34, season-opening win over New Orleans on Thursday night. Williams didn't return to the game.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy said the medical report was "positive" after there were initial concerns Williams might have incurred structural damage on a collision with safety Nick Collins during a run play. Williams will be further evaluated Wednesday, and McCarthy said it's too early to know what the starter's status will be for the Sept. 18 game at Carolina.

  • FS Nick Collins suffered a bruised wrist in the first half of Thursday's game but returned to the game and finished it. Coach Mike McCarthy said Collins was doing OK on Friday.

  • WR Donald Driver has a share of the team's all-time receiving yards record with Hall of Famer James Lofton with 9,656. Driver had four receptions for 41 yards Thursday to catch Lofton. Driver also became the first Packer and 33rd player in league history to attain the 700-catch plateau - the 13th-year player has 702 receptions.

  • DE Mike Neal didn't play Thursday after he missed the last half of the preseason with a knee sprain. Neal returned to practice earlier this week on a limited basis. It's unclear whether Neal, who was projected to be a starter to replace the departed Cullen Jenkins, will be ready to contribute in the next game.

  • TE Ryan Taylor was held out of Thursday's game. The rookie suffered a hip injury in the final week of the preseason. Taylor practiced in full for two days leading up to the game.

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