NFC North News, Notes and Quotes

The Bears are feeling like they gave away an opportunity to remain undefeated, the Lions and Rod Marinelli are feeling the heat of an 0-2 start, and the Packers could be without their featured running back when they enter a big NFC matchup with the Cowboys. Get the big stories from each of the Vikings' NFC North rivals.

CHICAGO BEARS

Knowing that they're unlikely to commit a dozen penalties again, or to lose the ball twice on fumbles, or to blow a 14-point lead in the final 21 minutes, as they did Sunday against the Panthers, gives the Bears hope this week against the Bucs.

"We definitely have a chip on our shoulder because we don't like that we kind of gave the game away," rookie running back Matt Forte said. "So we have a lot of enthusiasm this week."

Even though they dominated for much of the game in Charlotte, it wasn't enough to keep the Bears from seeing their record drop to 1-1, but they realize much of the damage was self-inflicted. There were the 12 penalties for 86 yards, two giveaways, just one takeaway and plenty of missed opportunities.

"It was frustrating all around because we left plays on the field, and we weren't able to hook up on plays that we should have," wide receiver Brandon Lloyd said. "I think the best words for me, pretty much how I've always looked at it (is), ‘Get over it.' Coach Lovie (Smith) said it: ‘Time to get over it and move on.' We've got a new opponent next week, and that's kind of where my head is at."

Smith said he doesn't have to harp on players who made mental or physical errors, although he won't ignore mistakes. Bottom line, he wants his team to be ready for the next challenge, the 1-1 Bucs with former Bears quarterback Brian Griese running the offense.

"We addressed the situation, not that you really have to," Smith said. "Every mistake we made, every turnover, we realize at the time. But you do have to move on. This is another day. You can't let one loss beat you the next week. What I mean by that is (not) harping on it. We watched the video (Monday), made our corrections and now it really is on to Tampa Bay."

Wide receiver Rashied Davis was displeased with his own play, which included a dropped pass on the first possession of the second half and a holding call that negated a 17-yard run by Matt Forte early in the fourth quarter.

"I'm frustrated by the holding call," Davis said. "That was disappointing because it brought back a big play. The drop was my biggest deal. I dropped an easy catch on a slant."

Fullback Jason McKie, who was stopped on fourth-and-1 on the Bears' final offensive play said it was tough watching it replayed on Monday.

"They had a good defense called; they knew that play was coming," McKie said. "We ran it a couple times during the game, (but) that's something that we have to convert."

Asked if it was the right call, McKie said: "We just run the play that's called. That's our job, to execute the plays, and that particular play, we didn't execute, and you see the result. As soon as I got the ball, I was hit. I tried to go to the left side to try to get one yard. But they had a good call. They played that play well."

Smith said he saw positive signs against the Panthers; just not enough of them.

"We've definitely seen our old defense back," he said. "And special teams, whenever you can start off a game like that with a touchdown (off Darrell McClover's blocked punt), it's got to be encouraging. But in the end, we didn't do enough. We realize that. But we see what we can become and what we will become as a football team. Tough loss for us. It hurt quite a bit, especially (Sunday), but today's about moving on."

NOTES

  • The Bears may have to take on the Bucs on Sunday at Soldier Field without return specialist-wide receiver Devin Hester and safety Brandon McGowan.

    Hester had swelling in the area of his rib injury Monday and was scheduled for an MRI later in the day. McGowan was still unable to put much weight on his sprained left ankle.

    As usual, coach Lovie Smith was less than forthcoming regarding the injuries or the players' status.

    "Devin has a rib injury and Brandon has an ankle injury," Smith said. "As far as how long (they) will be out, I'm not going to get into all of that. We're doing everything we can to see exactly where they are, to check them out the best we can. We'll give you an update a little bit later on."

    Expect official word to come down sometime late Sunday morning for the noon kickoff. Since there didn't seem to be any evidence of Hester taking a hit to the ribs, his injury appears to be a strain or a pull. McGowan is not expected to play vs. the Bucs, and Hester might be no better than 50-50.

    Wide receiver Rashied Davis didn't want to think about injuries, but said overcoming adversity is part of the game.

    "Everybody that's in the game has to make plays, period," Davis said. "No matter who's in there, you have to make plays, that's what you're here for, that's why you have a job."

  • After the Panthers fought back to narrow the Bears' lead to 17-13 in the fourth quarter, the Bears had an excellent opportunity to put the game out of reach.

    From his own 13-yard line, QB Kyle Orton launched a deep pass down the middle for WR Marty Booker, who was a stride behind the coverage. But Orton's pass was just beyond Booker's reach.

    "It's a game of inches," said Booker, who played only about 20 snaps and had one catch for four yards. "We missed it by inches. Unfortunately it worked out that way. I think we left a lot of plays out there, period."

    The Bears allowed Carolina to score the game's final 17 points and steal a 20-17 victory.

    "We could have put the game out of reach, and it would have been smooth sailing," Booker said. "But when you let teams in this league hang around, eventually they're going to come back. They came back, and they got us."

  • Linebacker and special-teams standout Darrell McClover got the Bears off to a flying start by blocking Jason Baker punt on the Panthers' first possession that was returned 9 yards for a touchdown by wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to give the Bears a 7-0 lead exactly two minutes into the game.

    "It wasn't really anything special," McClover said. "Coach (Dave Toub) called the play. I was the force guy. I forced it pretty good, and I got a block."

    McClover, who appeared to anticipate the snap came, off the far left edge and blew past Nick Goings before laying out to snuff Baker's punt. Lloyd caught the bouncing ball head high and raced into the end zone untouched.

    "I knew I had it," McClover said. "I was just trying to hit it where we could get it."

  • DE Alex Brown had a sack for the second straight week and also added a pair of tackles for loss.

  • WR Rashied Davis had three catches for just 11 yards, but he added a 17-yard run on an end-around.

  • CB Nate Vasher replaced Devin Hester as the Bears' punt returner after Hester suffered a rib injury. Vasher picked up 21 yards on three returns.

  • DB Danieal Manning took over the kickoff-return duties after Devin Hester's rib injury and turned in the Bears' longest return of the day, a 36-yarder, on his only chance.

  • WR Devin Hester caught one pass for six yards before leaving in the third quarter with a rib injury, which is presumed to be a pull or strain, although the Bears aren't saying. Hester has two catches for 13 yards this season.


    DETROIT LIONS

    Lions coach Rod Marinelli is under fire from Detroit fans and media frustrated with a 0-2 start and the prospect of another long, miserable season.

    After Sunday's 48-25 loss to Green Bay, Marinelli's Monday news conference was full of tough questions: Is he considering a change at quarterback? Can he objectively evaluate the performance of Joe Barry, his son-in-law and defensive coordinator? If the Lions don't make the playoffs in his third season, does he expect to be fired? Is he the right man for the job?

    Marinelli answered in much the same way he always has in tough times. He supported Kitna. He supported Barry. He declined to speculate about the future, and he took responsibility for the team's failings.

    "It starts with me," Marinelli said. "It always starts with me, and it has since I've been here. I've always said that."

    What about Kitna?

    "He had a bad game," Marinelli said. "I feel he's our leader and a very good quarterback. I do."

    What about Barry?

    "I'm very objective of in terms of I know exactly what I want," Marinelli said. "I've had a chance to work with him for years, and he's putting it in exactly the way I want it, so if there's a problem with it, it's me."

    What about the prospect of being fired?

    "I have no control over any of that," Marinelli said. "I don't know. When you look at that, I'm spinning my wheels and my energy on something I don't know. Why would I do that?"

    Why is Marinelli the right leader for the Lions?

    "If you summarize all of my answers today, I would say that we've tried to put this thing together as a team in terms of how you do business first in this building, in this complex," Marinelli said. "That was No. 1. And then the second phase is, we've got to play better game day. ...

    "Once we're able to take our practice habits to our game with consistency, we're going to do a nice job of winning. But as of this point, that has not happened, and I won't blow magic and mirrors to anybody. I deal in reality. I like what we've done in this building. I don't like what we've done on the field yet consistently."

    NOTES

  • Marinelli knows the fans are upset. "The first thing I will say about the fans, they were awesome in this game," Marinelli said. "They were unbelievable. It was so loud down there it was incredible. Our job is to make them happy, and we're not doing that, and I fully understand that. The thing I do appreciate it what type of fans they are. They're special. When we took that lead in the game, it was special. Now our job is to make them yell and scream and have a good time, and we did not do that."

  • Center Dominic Raiola is at a loss. "You sit around all year and you wait for season and then we give you this," Raiola said. "All I can say is, it's going to get better. I'm going to go out there and play my ass off. Everybody else is going to play their ass off. We're going to make something happen.

    "You can believe what you want, stay with the team if you want. But that's what I'm talking to the guys in this locker room about. It's about us. The fans have gone through this long enough. We can't promote anything. We've got to show them. We can't just talk about it, what we're going to do to fix it. We've got to go out there and win. That's what they want."

  • S Gerald Alexander's status is uncertain after he suffered a concussion Sunday against Green Bay.

  • DT Cory Redding suffered a sprained ankle Sunday and is day to day.

  • TE Casey Fitzsimmons' thumb injury is expected to be OK, according to the Lions' medical staff.

  • RT Gosder Cherilus played well in the second half Sunday, but coach Rod Marinelli declined to say whether he would start the next game at San Francisco.

  • QB Drew Stanton, who has been out with a sprained thumb, has been throwing and could be available at San Francisco. He is expected to be the third quarterback again, though.


    GREEN BAY PACKERS

    Unlike late in the season last year, when the Packers and Dallas met in Texas for a highly publicized matchup, NFC supremacy and home-field advantage in the conference playoffs won't technically be on the line Sunday night.

    The Week 3 rematch at Green Bay's Lambeau Field is huge, nevertheless, especially with the Packers off to a 2-0 start with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback now.

    Just as Green Bay withheld invaluable cornerback Charles Woodson from last year's meeting because of a toe injury, the possibility exists that the Packers could take on the Cowboys without featured back Ryan Grant.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy hinted at that Monday, a day after the Packers pulled out a 48-25 win at Detroit.

    Grant continues to be bothered by soreness in a hamstring, which kept him out most of the preseason. His workload was scaled back in the first two games, and Grant wasn't able to finish either of them.

    "I'm not there yet," Grant conceded after gaining only 20 yards in 15 carries Sunday. "But, I came out of this game feeling better than I did coming out of the Minnesota game (Sept. 8), which is a good thing. So, we're a week ahead."

    Grant is confident with a full week of recovery and limited practice later in the week that he'll be able to play against Dallas.
    Yet, in alluding to the deactivation of Woodson in last year's game as "a medical decision," McCarthy created the possibility that the team might have to be smart and sit Grant for a game.

    "The feedback that I've gotten back from (team doctor) Pat McKenzie is Ryan came out of the game OK," McCarthy said. "We'll see how we progress, and we'll set a plan for him this week as far as practice. That's clearly a medical decision. If we need to sit him down, we'll sit him down."

    After getting big contributions Sunday from Grant's backups, Brandon Jackson and Kregg Lumpkin, McCarthy said he's comfortable going three-deep at halfback.

    Jackson led Green Bay with 61 yards in seven carries, including a 19-yard touchdown that helped seal the comeback victory. Lumpkin, an undrafted rookie, also had a 19-yard run and was resourceful as a pass catcher with three receptions for 22 yards.

    "He's taken advantage of every opportunity he's been given here," McCarthy said of Lumpkin. "He had a ‘plus' performance in the opportunities that he had. He's physical."

    NOTES

  • Head coach Mike McCarthy is anticipating that CB Charles Woodson will be available for the Sunday night game against Dallas at Lambeau Field.

    McCarthy said Monday that Woodson apparently didn't suffer a setback with the broken right toe on which he played in the Packers' 48-25 win at Detroit on Sunday.

    "Dr. (Pat) McKenzie felt that he came out of the game fine, there wasn't any more further damage. We'll see how he feels Wednesday morning," McCarthy said.

    Woodson managed to play Sunday despite not practicing last week and being listed as questionable for the game after suffering the injury in the season opener Sept. 8.

    The four-time Pro Bowl player came through late in the game with two interceptions, including a 41-yard return for a touchdown in a 24-point run by Green Bay the final 51/2 minutes after it trailed 25-24.

    McCarthy said he would wait until Wednesday to determine Woodson's practice schedule this week. The team could follow the same schedule of last week and give Woodson all week to rest to ensure he'll be fine for the big game against the Cowboys.

    Woodson was held out of the late-season showdown at Dallas last year because of an injury to a different toe. The Cowboys hung on to win 37-27 to get the inside track to the NFC's top record.

    "Having (Woodson) this year will definitely be to our advantage, simply because of the experience that he brings and the ability to make big plays, which was evident in the Detroit game," McCarthy said.

  • In concert with the Packers' 2-0 start, McCarthy proclaimed Monday that first-year starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers has come through with two triumphant outings.

    "He's had a winning performance both weeks, as far as the decision on where the balls go," McCarthy said.

    Rodgers has yet to throw an interception and, prior to the Dallas-Philadelphia game Monday night, ranked sixth in the league for efficiency with a 117.8 passer rating.

    The former understudy to Brett Favre is completing passes at a high rate (42-for-60, 70 percent).

    In Sunday's game, Rodgers was 16-of-20 for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Packers bolted to a 21-0 lead. He finished 24-of-38 for 328 yards.

    "He's making good decisions," McCarthy said. "He's being accurate with the football. He hasn't taken many chances. That's all part of good quarterback play. He needs to continue to do that."

    McCarthy, though, was critical of at least one decision made by Rodgers on Sunday, which incidentally turned out well for the Packers. Rodgers eluded pressure and scrambled along the sideline to convert a third-and-7 play in the third quarter with a 9-yard run. After getting past the first-down marker, however, Rodgers tried to cut the run back inside, instead of going out of bounds, and took a shot from a Lions defender.

    "He doesn't need to be thinking like that, he's a quarterback," McCarthy said. "He needs to be smart there. When he got the first down, he needs to get out of bounds, don't take any unnecessary hits."

  • FB Korey Hall was diagnosed with a sprained left knee Monday. The starter suffered the injury early in the first quarter of the Packers' 48-25 win at Detroit on Sunday and didn't play the rest of the game. Hall will be held out until at least Friday to see whether the swelling in the knee has subsided before a decision is made on his availability for the Sunday night game against Dallas. John Kuhn is the other fullback on the roster.

  • SS Atari Bigby also is questionable to be ready by the weekend after suffering a game-ending strained hamstring before halftime Sunday. Bigby's status for the next game won't be determined until the end of the week. Aaron Rouse filled in for Bigby in the second half Sunday and would be the likely replacement starter.

  • C Scott Wells could be returning to the practice field Wednesday. Wells has been sidelined since aggravating a strained muscle in his lower back a week before the Sept. 8 season opener. Jason Spitz started in Wells' place the first two games. Wells isn't assured of reclaiming his starting job right away.

  • OG Josh Sitton also could be back at practice this week. The rookie, who had earned the starting job at right guard early in the preseason, has been out since suffering a sprained MCL in a knee in the Aug. 22 exhibition game.

  • OG Allen Barbre was worked in for two series at left guard during Sunday's game, with Daryn Colledge moved over to right guard in place of Tony Moll. Barbre had been battling Colledge for the starting spot at left guard in the preseason. More playing time could be in the offing for Barbre after Colledge had a so-so performance Sunday.

  • WR Ruvell Martin was deactivated Sunday after experiencing a setback in the opener with a broken left ring finger he sustained late in the preseason. The injury isn't expected to keep Martin, who practiced last week with a club-like cast on his left hand, out of action much longer.



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