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Bears face ‘heck of a challenge’

Posted by Larry Mayer on October 18, 2012 – 6:11 pm

The Bears offensive line will face a difficult test Monday night against an aggressive Lions defensive line comprised of Cliff Avril, Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

“This will be one heck of a challenge against this front,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “Anybody that plays against this front and doesn’t account for the fact that they could take over a game would be foolish.

“Hopefully we won’t be foolish and we’ll have answers—as many as we can—for as hard as they play, as dynamic as they play, as aggressive as they play and as long as they play. They play through the whistle. So this will be a great challenge for us.”

With Avril and Vanden Bosch lining up at end and Fairley and Suh at tackle, the Lions boast four dangerous pass rushers who must be accounted for.

“They’re good,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “They get after the quarterback. What they have is not only guys on the outside, but those two inside can get a push. Whenever you feel pressure on the outside and you step up, they’re getting a push in there. There is not a lot of room to operate, so it’s a big challenge for us.”

Avril leads the Lions with 3.5 sacks, while Suh and Vanden Bosch have 2.5 apiece.

“What I’ve seen from their defensive line is a front four that can play the run and that can rush the passer,” said coach Lovie Smith. “They don’t have to blitz an awful lot because of the pressure that they can generate from that four-man rush.”

“They’re real tough, and they give us problems,” Tice said. “We have to compete every play as hard as we can and make sure we’re sound in our schemes, make sure we know where our help is up front in protection, and we have to be able to run the ball too and mix it up.”

Tice acknowledged that the Bears will have to make some adjustments in their game plan.

“There are a number of different types of plays that have to be thrown out,” he said. “Anything where Jay is holding onto the football, we have to be careful how much of those type things we have in. We have to be rhythmic. You can look at the teams that have played Detroit. They’re getting the ball out or they’re blocking a whole heck of a lot of bodies in there. But you have to run the ball too.”

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Bears counting on Hester, Bennett

Posted by Larry Mayer on October 18, 2012 – 3:22 pm

With rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery recovering from a hand injury, veterans Devin Hester and Earl Bennett will both likely help fill the void Monday night against the Lions.

Hester has seven receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown this season. After not catching a pass in back-to-back games against the Packers and Rams, the seven-year veteran had five receptions for 87 yards in wins over the Cowboys and Jaguars.

“We haven’t really used him in some of the areas that we wanted to use him,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “But we’re only a couple games into this thing. We’ve got a long way to go. So we’re going to try to continue to grow his package. His package is going to grow just by the sheer fact that we lost Alshon this week.”

Bennett is expected to return Monday night after missing two games with a hand injury. He caught six passes for 82 yards in the first three contests of the season. Bennett has been especially effective on third down. In his last 22 games dating back to 2010, he has caught 20 passes on third down, converting 19 of them into first downs.

Jeffery was injured Oct. 7 while catching a 10-yard touchdown pass in the Bears’ 41-3 win over the Jaguars. The second-round pick has 14 receptions for 184 yards and two TDs this season.

“Alshon was coming on,” Tice said. “It’s unfortunate. That’s part of the NFL. We lose a good young player. But getting Earl back is going to be a good boost for us, and hopefully we can get Hester going a little bit. Of course, it’s a little different. Alshon’s a big-body guy and can body-up on people and body-up on smaller corners. But that’s just the NFL, so we have to move forward.”

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Marshall, Johnson on collision course

Posted by Larry Mayer on October 18, 2012 – 2:05 pm

Tied for ninth in the NFL with 35 receptions, game-breaking receivers Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson will battle for bragging rights Monday night when the Bears host the Lions.

“Two No. 1 receivers you’re going to see on the field Monday night, they’re about as good as you’re going to see in the league this year,” said coach Lovie Smith. “That should be worth coming to the game just to watch the two of these guys play.”

In his last two games, Marshall has caught 19 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first Bears receiver to top 100 yards in back-to-back contests since 1999. He’s not, however, viewing Monday night’s game as a one-on-one battle with Johnson.

“I just have to be the best wide receiver for the Chicago Bears and play my role,” Marshall said. “If it’s catching 10 balls one week of if it’s two or three the next week and blocking in the run game, it’s the same for me.”

Johnson has compiled 558 yards in five games this season, but has scored only one touchdown. Last year the Lions star had 96 receptions for a NFL-high 1,681 yards and 16 TDs.

“He’s as advertised,” Marshall said. “On my iPad I have probably the top 10 receivers. I won’t mention who’s in my top 10, but he’s definitely one of them. I really like what he’s doing. I really like where his career’s headed. He had an amazing year last year, so a lot of guys are trying to keep up with the pace that he set.”

In the Bears’ 37-13 win over the Lions last Nov. 13 at Soldier Field, Johnson was targeted 19 times but had just seven receptions for 81 yards. Cornerback Charles Tillman did an excellent job containing him, breaking up two passes and returning an interception 44 yards for a touchdown.

“We’ll have to be able to slow him down a little bit,” Smith said. “We’ll have to in order to be able to win the football game. This isn’t a new team we’re playing. They have great talent over there, but we played them before, so we feel pretty good about our chances just like they do.”

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