Mike Brown's season is over, and so is his pity party.
"My wife (Erin) ended that pretty soon," Brown said Thursday afternoon wearing a cast on his right foot and a bittersweet smile. "That's why I married her. She told me to stop feeling sorry for myself about an hour into my pity party, so I got over it pretty quickly."
Following Wednesday's surgery to mend the torn ligament in his foot, Brown was placed on injured reserve, ending his chances of playing but freeing up a roster spot. He will spend about 10 weeks in a cast and on crutches and won't have enough time to contribute this season after rebuilding what will be an atrophied lower right leg.
"I wanted to be a part of this because I feel like this is something very special, and it's going to continue to be something special," the seven-year veteran said. "It just sucks that I can't be a part of it. But hey, life isn't fair. I've enjoyed the six games that I've played this year. I've had a lot of fun, and no one can take those six from me. It just is what it is. The only thing that I could tell you is that I have a lot of heart and I'm a hard worker and I know I'll be back."
Brown also suffered a season-ending injury in 2004, when his left Achilles tendon ruptured in the second game of the season. He came back last season to start 12 games but missed four with a calf injury.
"He's had injuries before," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "He knows how to come back from them."
While he rehabs, Brown wants to stay close to the team and provide the leadership and experience that the Bears have come to expect.
"It'll be coach Brown now," Smith said. "Mike can give quite a bit of leadership. He has a lot of knowledge that he can lend to the rest of the guys in that DB room, so we're looking forward to him filling a different role for us."
Brown's role on the field will be played by Todd Johnson. The four-year veteran started 10 games in ‘04 when Brown was sidelined has learned many lessons from the Pro Bowler, for example, "How to be a pro.
"He teaches the young guys from the day they get here how to respond to things," Johnson said. "He's taught (me) everything from being quiet as a young guy to stepping up and speaking up when it's your time out there on the field to be the leader. You know that if you're on the roster, you're eventually going to have to play at some point, and you'd better be ready.
"It's definitely a loss. He was a leader on our team. It hurts, but we've got guys who are going to be able to step in and are going to be able to make plays. He spoke to the DBs and said, ‘The train has got to go on, and we're not going to miss a beat.'"
A sprained ankle and then a quad injury have rendered Harris inactive in three of the past four games, but the season-ending foot injury to strong safety Mike Brown could eventually make Harris a factor once again, although Todd Johnson will replace Brown as the starter. First, though he has to get back to 100 percent, which he said might take another two weeks.
"The ankle was hurting me the first two games," he said. "Then that got better, and I was messing around and hurt my quad in the Buffalo game (Oct. 8). It's coming along pretty well, though."
Harris claims his confidence hasn't been shaken by the earlier demotion.
"I'm very confident in my abilities and what I can do," he said. "No confidence was lost after the situation. I know what type of player I am. My goal is just to be ready whenever my number's called again."
"No news," Smith said. "We're still in a waiting mode."
The Bears expect to be notified before the end of next week if the league will suspend Manning. That could stretch the depth in the secondary a bit thin. On Monday night, Todd Johnson replaced Mike Brown at strong safety, but Johnson moved to nickel back when Manning went out with a strained hamstring. So Cameron Worrell took over at strong safety.
"It will get a little shaky," said defensive backs coach Steve Wilks. "Cameron is a guy who will have to come in and play strong safety if Todd plays the nickel. It's just something we have to look at this week."
Coach Rod Marinelli might not be excited about the bye week but the Lions players are ready for the break.
Asked after the 31-24 loss to the New York Jets if this is a good time to get a week to rest and regroup for the final nine games of the season, Marinelli said: "No, I'd be ready to play next week but that's the cards I'm dealt, so ..."
The Lions players, however, have a slightly different perspective with the 1-6 start weighing them down.
"Any time you get some time off in this league you take it," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "Especially with how beat up we've been all year and the injuries we've sustained, missing so many starters to injuries, if we can get a week off and maybe get a couple of guys back it can do nothing but help us."
Offensively, Kitna and his teammates have played virtually the entire season without two of their five starting offensive linemen — left guard Ross Verba and right tackle Rex Tucker. Marinelli is hopeful of getting them back after the bye.
A third offensive starter — right guard Damien Woody — is out for the season with a foot injury.
Defensively, there is a chance of getting back three major players — LB Alex Lewis, SS Kenoy Kennedy and LB Teddy Lehman — and Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers will be back after missing the three-remaining games of his four-game suspension for testing positive to a banned substance.
"The bye week is always good if it's not too early," said defensive tackle Marcus Bell. "Me, personally, I think it's coming at a good time but we've still got to practice this week and get ourselves ready, focus, go in and watch the film, try to get our mistakes corrected."
At this point of the season, there is no shortage of mistakes to be corrected.
Bell, a six-year veteran, is a journeyman, a blue-collar worker being asked to do the job of one of the NFL's best defensive tackles.
Against the Jets in a 31-24 loss Sunday, Bell was credited with making 11 tackles but the Lions still were shredded for 221 yards rushing by the Jets. It was obvious they missed Rogers' clogging presence in the middle of their defense.
"Like I say, he's a dominating player," Bell said. "Offensively, if you're making a game plan, he has to be accounted for, that's the main thing. We can't be making excuses like, ‘Oh, we didn't have Shaun.' We've got myself and the rest of the guys who have to step up.
"It's not a question of guys not playing hard. We've got to be more responsible. It's just like coach is going to tell you, fundamentally we've got to be in our gaps and be responsible."
"We'll maybe shorten it down a little bit," Marinelli said. "We've still got guys banged up and this gives us a chance to get healthy. I'm going to go back through a lot of our cut-ups, just kind of (look at) who's fitting and all the problems that we've got."
The Lions kept their regular Monday schedule after the 31-24 loss to the New York Jets, will get their usual day off Tuesday and then have somewhat shortened workouts Wednesday and Thursday without pads. They will get a long weekend — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — before returning to practice next Monday to begin preparations for a home game with Atlanta.
"When we come back on Monday, we'll pad ‘em up," Marinelli said.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers went into Sunday's game at Miami in dire straits at wide receiver. They came out of the 34-24 comeback victory as desperate as a team can be at the position.
Head coach Mike McCarthy indicated Monday that rookie starter Greg Jennings might be out for an extended period. Jennings sustained a sprained right ankle after making a catch in traffic in the waning seconds of the first half.
Jennings missed the rest of the game and was on crutches as the team returned to Green Bay.
"They X-rayed him at the stadium. My understanding is his ankle is not broken; it's an ankle sprain. That's the diagnosis," McCarthy said.
Jennings underwent further tests Monday. McCarthy said it's possible the Packers will be without their No. 2 receiver against Arizona on Sunday.
That leaves veteran starter Donald Driver, first-year Ruvell Martin and undrafted rookie Chris Francies as the only healthy receivers on the roster.
The team lost Koren Robinson to a one-year suspension last week. It's been without Robert Ferguson, its No. 3 receiver at the start of the season, since he suffered a foot injury in Week 4.
Ferguson went to Charlotte, N.C., for a second opinion last week. The damage is confined to the Lisfranc joint in the midfoot, which is a common season-ending injury.
"It's going to be a long-term situation," McCarthy conceded Monday. "We're in the process of deciding what we need to do. He's going to potentially in the very near future get another opinion. So, we'll work through that today and hopefully have it resolved by tomorrow."
Consequently, McCarthy said the team likely would add a receiver this week.
In the interim, he doesn't have any reservations giving Martin and Francies, who was promoted from the practice squad last week, enhanced roles. Both had a clutch reception in an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter Sunday that cemented the win.
"They are guys that have been with us since Day 1. They've earned their spots on this team, and they'll be counted on to play a role," McCarthy said.
"Solid football game," head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Colledge, a natural left tackle who had been starting at left guard, was pressed into service on the outside after Chad Clifton fell ill overnight.
The Dolphins exploited the late switch at the outset. All-Pro defensive end Jason Taylor beat Colledge with a speed rush to the outside and also an inside move to force two fumbles by Brett Favre in back-to-back series in the first quarter. The first fumble resulted in a turnover deep in Packers territory, and Miami scored a touchdown.
Thereafter, McCarthy gave Colledge help on the left side by chipping Taylor with a tight end or a running back and using a double team with left guard Jason Spitz. Taylor wasn't a factor after the two big plays.
"I thought the tackles (Colledge and Mark Tauscher) played solid," McCarthy said. "We struggled inside. The guards (Spitz and fellow rookie Tony Moll did not play as well as we would have liked."
Colledge hurt a calf in the game, however. It's not known whether he'll have to miss any time this week.
The Packers were up 27-24 and faced a fourth-and-1 at the Miami 40. McCarthy kept the offense on the field and took another big risk by calling for an end-around by receiver Donald Driver.
"At that point in the game, it could have been fourth-and-4, and I was going for it," McCarthy said. "I felt there were a number of factors that went through my thought process. We needed to continue that drive because our defense had been on the field (for a big chunk of the second half); I was very conscious of how many snaps our defense was on the field.
"We had the big (70-yard touchdown) run by Ahman (Green on the previous drive), but I needed to do everything I could to finish that drive."
As for the end-around decision, McCarthy added, "Frankly, that was my short-yardage call, and I used it in the fourth-down situation. That call was easy — it came right off the call sheet."
Driver made McCarthy look like a genius by zipping past former teammate Vonnie Holliday in the backfield for a 6-yard gain.