The Detroit Lions are at least exploring options at kicker, as colleague Adam Schefter reported the team brought in three veterans at the position to work out Tuesday: Rob Bironas, Garrett Hartley and Alex Henery.

They might not be the only possibilities, though. When the Lions kicked around switching kickers last season, they brought them in over a two-day span before sticking with David Akers for the rest of the 2013 season.

So here are some possibilities for Detroit as it explores its kicking question:

Nate Freese: He has the job right now after beating out Giorgio Tavecchio during the preseason. Detroit's seventh-round draft pick in May, Freese is 2 of 5 so far with no made field goals over 30 yards. This is on top of a somewhat shaky preseason where Tavecchio appeared to outperform him. Lions coach Jim Caldwell still thinks Freese has a future in the league, and he might. If Detroit sticks with him, he'll likely have a small margin for error to fix his issues.

Rob Bironas: Tennessee released him in March as a clear cap casualty as he was due a $250,000 roster bonus and had a $2.875 million base salary for 2014. He is, however, a strong veteran kicker. The 36-year-old Bironas made 25 of 29 field goals last season, including 2 of 3 over 50 yards.

Garrett Hartley: Hartley is somewhat of a riskier play than Bironas. He made 22 of 30 field goals last season for New Orleans and has had a downward trajectory since making all eight of his field goals in 2008. But, members of the Lions coaching staff will have familiarity with him and familiarity often breeds signings.

Alex Henery: Like Hartley, Henery has had a downward trajectory the past three seasons and lost his job in Philadelphia to rookie Cody Parkey during training camp. He has a fairly accurate leg, though, making 86 percent of field goals in his career. Plus, he's only 27 so if the Lions sign him and he does well, he could be a long-term solution.

Giorgio Tavecchio: Detroit knows what it would get with him, so probably one of the reasons it didn't call him up for a tryout. But he's a young kicker who some -- including myself -- believe should have won the job out of camp. So he'd at least be in consideration if the team makes a move.

Jay Feely: Probably the best kicker Detroit hasn't reportedly brought in yet. When he was cut by Arizona, he indicated he still wanted to kick and still believed he could. He has ties to the state, having played college football at Michigan. The 38-year-old could also provide a mentoring presence to punter Sam Martin. He wouldn't be a long-term solution, but he made 30 of 36 field goals last season, was 11 of 12 from 40-to-49 yards and 3 of 5 from 50-plus yards.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The roster shuffling continued at Halas Hall on Tuesday, with the Chicago Bears elevating cornerback Isaiah Frey and receiver Rashad Ross off the practice squad to the 53-man roster while waiving running back Shaun Draughn and receiver Chris Williams, in addition to terminating the contract of vested veteran tight end Matthew Mulligan.

The moves come in response to the Bears placing cornerback Charles Tillman on the season-ending injured reserve, as well as to the club’s struggles on special teams during its win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Bears also added defensive tackle Roy Philon to the practice squad.

A third-year veteran, Frey spent all of the 2013 season as the team’s primary nickel corner. But he struggled throughout the season due to a broken bone in his hand and failed to force a single turnover. Frey started six games, producing 62 tackles and two pass breakups, in addition to generating five quarterback pressures.

Frey spent his rookie season (2012) and the first two weeks of this season on the practice squad. It’s unknown whether the Bears plan to make Frey the starter at nickel for Monday night’s matchup against the New York Jets, and it’s likely the club is continuing to explore options at the position.

Because of Tillman’s injury, the Bears will move rookie Kyle Fuller into the starting lineup to play opposite Tim Jennings. Still, the club seeks a proven player to take snaps from the slot corner position, as the Bears spend approximately 50 percent of the time executing out of substitution packages.

Ross, meanwhile, spent the bulk of last season on the practice squads of the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs after the former signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State.

Ross played in 26 games at Arizona State with 14 starts, and he caught 55 passes for 864 yards and seven touchdowns while also contributing as a return man (779 yards and two touchdowns).

Rodgers wants to keep targeting Nelson

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If there's a downside to the fact that Jordy Nelson has an NFL-leading 18 catches for 292 yards through two games -- and there may not be one -- it could be that the Green Bay Packers have become too reliant one player.

At this point, the man throwing Nelson the ball does not see that as a concern.

While admitting it's a departure from what they normally do, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show that he does not see a downside to it.

"If teams are going to start rolling some coverage to Jordy, then we need our other guys to step up and we need to be able to run the ball more effectively," Rodgers said on his show.

In Sunday's comeback win over the Jets, Rodgers targeted Nelson 16 times. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rodgers had never before thrown that many passes toward a single receiver in one game. The previous week, Rodgers went to Nelson 14 times.

"That's a lot of targets," Rodgers said. "We've spread the ball around pretty good over the years because that's the way we run our offense. We throw to the open guy, we go through our progressions and a lot of guys have opportunities to be the No. 1 on various plays.

"But I think we've found ourselves targeting him more and realizing that there's a lot of good things happen when the ball's thrown his way. I'm happy for him. I'm not surprised. The guy makes incredible plays every day in practice. He is constantly looking for ways to help out our offense, and he does the little things as well. He's a great blocker, he's a great route runner, he has great second and third reactions. Just going to keep trying to find ways to give him the football."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A black briefcase lying in front of him at the podium, Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long took a businesslike approach Monday in assessing the team's dismal performance in the run game during the club's triumph over the San Francisco 49ers.

"I was embarrassed," Long said.

Bears coach Marc Trestman worded his thoughts a tad more delicately, but the fact remains the offense -- after averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt in the season opener -- took a major step backward running the ball against the 49ers.

Obviously several factors played into the performance, most significantly, a 17-point deficit in the second quarter, which put the team into passing mode. Still, when Chicago ran against the 49ers, it averaged just 2.7 yards per attempt, with Matt Forte finishing with 21 yards on 12 attempts.

[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
AP Photo/Tony Avelar)The Bears struggled to run the ball against the 49ers, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.
Jay Cutler led the way with 25 yards rushing, with all of that coming on one scramble.

"Very poor in our run game performance," Trestman said. "We're gonna throw that away, and try to work off where we got started in the Buffalo game, and try to continue progress and get better there. [San Francisco is a] very difficult defense to run against. But nonetheless, the tape has certainly shown us we have some work to do. It got our guys' attention, which is a good thing."

The club's rushing aspirations become more difficult Monday night on the road when the Bears face the New York Jets, which boast the league's to run defense. Jets opponents averaged 2.8 yards per attempt and 52.5 yards per game on the ground. New York's defense is one of just seven units in the NFL which still hasn't given up a rushing touchdown.

The longest run surrendered by the Jets this season was 12 yards.

"We need to run the ball," Long said. "I know we got the win on the road, and it was big. I'm sure everybody else in our room will echo that. So will Matt. You need to run the ball in the National Football League, and we'll be better at that."

Chicago certainly needs to be Monday night to prevent New York from making it one dimensional, which in turn would allow the Jets to pin back their ears and come after quarterback Jay Cutler. If the Bears can string together success on the ground against the Jets, the playbook opens up and allows them to attack with all the weapons at their disposal as opposed to relying solely on Jay Cutler and the receivers to make the offense go.

Long attributed the offense's problems running the ball to simply "techniques, different looks." But ultimately, Long said there's no excuse for Chicago's inability to run the ball effectively.

"You run the ball. You grab the guy in front of him. You move him, and the running back has an opening," Long said. "It's hard to break that down any simpler than that. [The Jets] pose another challenge for us. When you can break through walls like those, you become stronger as a unit. I feel like it's an opportunity for us. It's a mountain. We've got to climb it, and we've got to put our flag in the top of it. We're gonna figure out a way to run the ball against the Jets."

Balancing out the run-pass ration might help (83 passes to 35 runs so far this season), as well as bringing back fullback Tony Fiammetta. Fiammetta missed the opener due to a hamstring injury. Then the team -- reeling from injuries along the offensive line and receiver -- cut the fullback last week as it adjusted the roster to compensate. The Bears brought Fiammetta back on Monday, and Trestman is hopeful he can help spark the rushing attack as Forte's lead blocker.

"He certainly could [help]," Trestman said. "Tony Fiammetta is an excellent player, and we haven't had a chance to utilize him because of the hamstring injury. Very, very good as a lead back. I know Matt likes running with Tony leading the way."

Debating Clay Matthews' new role

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
GREEN BAY, Wis. – It was third-and-4 from the Green Bay Packers' 29-yard line in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the New York Jets, and Clay Matthews lined up in the middle of the defense, nearly 4 yards from the football.

He blitzed up the middle and hit Geno Smith in 2.4 seconds just as the Jets quarterback released the ball, which would turn into a touchdown pass to Eric Decker.

[+] EnlargeClay Matthews
AP Photo/Bill KostrounClay Matthews hasn't rushed as much through two games in 2014 as he has in the past.
It was a prime example of one way defensive coordinator Dom Capers is using Matthews in his new 4-3 front.

But it's not the only way.

Through the first two games this season, Matthews has dropped into coverage far more often than he did last season, when he lined up primarily as an edge rusher in Capers' 3-4 scheme. Capers still does some of that with the four-time Pro Bowler but not anywhere near as much as he used to.

Last season, Matthews dropped into coverage on just 52 opponent dropbacks and rushed 284 times, according to ProFootballFocus. That's a rush rate of 84.5 percent.

So far this season, Matthews has rushed on just 72.5 percent of opponent passing plays for which he was on the field (50 rushes, 19 drops), according to PFF. That would be the second-lowest rate of his career. His 2012 number (84.4 percent) was an almost exact match to last season. Prior to that, his rush percentages were 77.5 percent (2011), 78.5 percent (2010) and 70.1 percent (2009), according to PFF.

Against the Jets, he was on the field for 34 passing plays. He rushed 22 times and dropped into coverage 12 times (a rush rate of just 64.7 percent). Given that Matthews has lined up away from the line of scrimmage more than ever, it makes sense that his rush rates have dropped.

But is moving Matthews farther from the quarterback the best use of his talents?

"I think he's equally as good in terms of rushing and dropping out of there," Capers said. "I think it just gives us more versatility in terms of what we can do with him."

Coach Mike McCarthy wholeheartedly endorsed the way Capers has used Matthews so far.

"When you have an exceptional football player, when you line him up in the same place every single time, you help the offense," McCarthy said. "If you want to chip him, if you want to slide to him, if you're able to practice it all week, Clay Matthews is over there or Clay Matthews is over there, it's an easier training process for the opponent. It's just really having Clay do the same things he's always done and just move him around."

Matthews registered his first sack of the season on Sunday against the Jets. It came when he was lined up at his traditional outside linebacker position.

After the game, Matthews was not seen in the locker room by the time it opened to the media. That same was true on Monday. But during OTAs, when the changes in Matthews' role were just becoming apparent, he did not think his pass-rush numbers would decline.

"I doubt I'm going to have to sacrifice statistics because I always feel like I can make my plays, but at the same time there will be some opportunities to present some mismatches," Matthews said at the time. "So it may not be your traditional line up here, line up there. There might be a little more difficulty for the offense, narrowing in on certain players, especially with the personnel that we brought in, myself included moving around a little bit more and just having fun with it."

But at least one former Packers linebacker thinks Capers and McCarthy have erred with Matthews' new role. Brady Poppinga, who played for the Packers from 2005-2010, responded to a tweet posted Monday about something McCarthy said about Matthews' new role.

Poppinga then offered his advice about how to use Matthews and Julius Peppers.

It's safe to say Capers disagrees.

"I think for him, when you look at the big picture, if he's lined up on the end and he's got a 330 pound tackle blocking him all day, I just think over the long run this is going to be better for him, too," Capers said.
BearsAP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezThe Bears' defense had plenty of highlights on Sunday, including two interceptions by rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller.


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1. Entire defense: There is a noticeable improvement on defense. From top to bottom, the whole group needs credit for keeping the Bears in the game against the San Francisco 49ers, despite suffering a ton of injuries to key starters. Defensive end Willie Young is a gem. He filled out the stat sheet for the second consecutive week with four tackles, two sacks, two tackles-for-loss and two quarterback hits, according to the NFL's official game book. Jared Allen made a couple of impact plays with a tackle-for-loss and forced fumble. Lance Briggs had a bounce-back game. Rookie Kyle Fuller intercepted two fourth-quarter passes in place of injured Charles Tillman (triceps), and safety Chris Conte had a highlight-reel pick before he left early due to a bad shoulder. Safety Ryan Mundy, linebacker Shea McClellin and the first-year interior defensive linemen (Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson) all contributed to the victory. If the Bears can get efforts like this from the defense every week, the team will be in position to win lots of games.

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2. Jay Cutler, QB: Cutler and the offense got off to a bad start, but the quarterback recovered to finish 23-of-34 for 176 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, with a passer rating of 119.2. Cutler beat a good team on the road. That deserves a mention. He stayed in the game after taking an illegal hit to the chest late in the first half. That shot must have triggered something inside Cutler because he played at a different level from that moment on. Cutler no doubt benefitted from the sturdy play of the offensive line (minus starters Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson), but it's hard to throw four touchdowns when the team is struggling to establish the ground game. However, Cutler pulled it off. Even some of the dropped balls were delivered on the money.

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3. Brandon Marshall, WR: Not a bad performance for a guy with a bum ankle. Marshall played like a man possessed in Week 2, catching three touchdowns, including a miraculous one-handed grab at the end of the first half that proved to be a turning point for the Bears. Marshall vowed all week he planned to play against the 49ers, and he backed it up with a performance that will have Bears' fans buzzing all week. Credit wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for fighting through a tight hamstring to contribute three receptions for 47 yards. The Bears were never going to defeat San Francisco with their two Pro Bowl receivers on the sidelines. Both were active, and the Bears pulled out the 28-20 upset. Coincidence? Hardly. Great players who push themselves often inspire their teammates. The extra day should help Marshall and Jeffery get ready to face the New York Jets on Monday.


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1. Special teams: Unfair to criticize one person for the mess on special teams, this is a collective issue. But no matter where the fault ultimately lies, the Bears need to clean up the special teams mistakes because it's borderline unwatchable. The Bears committed a ton of penalties (three on one specific play) and had the opening punt blocked. These breakdowns are unacceptable. Rookie punter Pat O'Donnell struck the ball with authority against the 49ers, despite his 32.3 net average. After O'Donnell, there wasn't much to like. And the Bears still cannot figure out the return game. Senorise Perry looks to be very average on kickoff return after two weeks.

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2. Run game: It was an off-night for the run game. The team basically went away from the ground attack after the 49ers jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but yards were hard to come by whenever the Bears put the ball in Matt Forte's hands. Forte carried the ball 12 times for 21 yards (1.8 yards per rush average). Cutler actually had the best run of the night when he scrambled for 25 yards. It's hard to establish much of a rhythm when the starting tailback is fed the ball only 12 times, but the offense failed to capitalize when the opportunities presented themselves on the ground, no matter how few and far between they were.

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3. Officials: Twenty-seven combined penalties? Kind of excessive, no? Not to mention the crew took forever to make certain calls and explain the rulings. The game dragged. It was really tough to watch in the first half, for both sides. I'm a firm believer in the fact that officials do not determine the outcome of games. Calls will be missed. That's life. Deal with it. But officials can impact the enjoyment level of watching games. Thumbs down to the officials. Second week in the row the crew assigned to the Bears didn't appear to have their act together. These penalty fests are hurting the league.
PITTSBURGH -- Recent player arrests and -- the NFL's response to ones related to domestic abuse and child abuse -- has led to an avalanche of criticism of the billion-dollar league.

But Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel defended the NFL and said the actions of a few are not representative of most of the players.

"There is a lot of negativity out right now in the league but I hang my hat on every day knowing there are a lot of good guys in this game, too," Keisel said on Monday. "There's a lot of guys that do the right thing, that act the right way, that are living productive and charitable lives. Negative news sells. It's the world we live in."

Negative news has engulfed the NFL since last Monday when TMZ released a video of Ray Rice punching his then fiancÚ and knocking her out in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, hotel elevator.

Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. But an investigation has been commissioned to review the NFL's conduct in the Rice case.

Its handling of abuse cases has also been questioned following a bench conviction of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy for assaulting his former girlfriend. Hardy played in Carolina's season opener but was deactivated Sunday as was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson following his arrest late last week for child abuse.

The Vikings have said Peterson will play this week. Hardy is practicing this week, though his status for a Sunday night game against the Steelers has not been decided.

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu shrugged off a question about what impact the negative publicity has had on the NFL.

"To be honest, I don't pay attention to any (media coverage) whether it's good or bad," the eight-time Pro Bowler said. "I'm not concerned with the image of the league. That's what (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell's concern is and the league owners' concern is. I am concerned with the image of this team and this organization and our program and whether we win or not."

Keisel and Polamalu are two of the Steelers' leaders and among their players who are most active in the community.

Both are past Steelers' winners of the Walter Payton Award, which recognizes players for their charitable contributions.

"There's a lot of guys in this locker room and locker rooms throughout the league that try and do the right thing," Keisel said. "That's really all I think about is making a positive impact when I can and being a good productive player at the same time."
Charles Tillman said “this isn’t the end of the road for me” in a statement released by the team on Monday after it announced he’d go on the season-ending injured reserve due to a ruptured triceps. The first thought to come to mind was it may not be the end, but in Chicago it’s essentially over.

That’s not the way to think regarding a player of Tillman’s ilk. But reality is reality.

Tim Jennings signed a four-year extension back in January worth $22.4 million, and rookie Kyle Fuller received a four-year deal with a club option for a fifth year which pays $9.687 million, including a signing bonus of $5.365 million.

Tillman, meanwhile, was playing on a one-year contract worth $3.25 million, and he signed that late after free agency proved fruitless.

Moving forward, the Bears can't afford to pay starter's money to three corners, especially with Jay Cutler's monstrous salary and potential extensions coming down the pipe for several players such as Brian de la Puente and Alshon Jeffery, just to name a couple.

Tillman certainly deserves to finish his career in Chicago. But with the corner set to turn 34 before the start of the 2015 season, it’s unlikely the Bears bring him back at a salary he wouldn’t find to be a slap in the face.

When Tillman hits free agency, he likely won’t be looking to break the bank. But he’ll definitely feel he’s worth more than a veteran minimum type of deal, which is probably what the Bears will offer given Tillman’s age, recent injury history, and the emergence of Fuller, who picked off a pair of passes Sunday in the club’s win at San Francisco. Besides that, if the Bears did decide to bring back Tillman for another season, would it be as a starter? Would he feel comfortable taking on the role as the nickel corner?

It’s sad to be pondering all this with emotions still raw, fewer than 24 hours after Tillman’s latest setback.

But that’s the reality we’re faced with; one in which special players such as Tillman always leave on someone else’s terms.

“He’s one of our leaders on this team, and much needed,” receiver Brandon Marshall said during his radio show Monday on ESPN Chicago 1000. “It’s sad for the city, it’s sad for our team, it’s sad for him.”

It truly is.

Tillman was correct in saying it’s not the end of the road, because it isn’t. Once Tillman rehabs from this injury, he’ll still be a player capable of starting and playing at a high level in the NFL.

But the problem is this team, even before Tillman’s injury, has already moved on. If Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester have taught us anything, it’s the fact the Bears -- like every other team in the NFL -- always moves on.
The Chicago Bears signed fullback Tony Fiammetta to the 53-man roster, while also adding rookie quarterback David Fales to the practice squad.

The Bears brought back Fiammetta and Fales after cutting the duo last week in a series of roster moves brought about due to a rash of injuries along the offensive line and at receiver. Fiammetta had been nursing a hamstring injury headed into Week 2, while Fales had missed practice time because of a shoulder injury.

A six-year veteran, Fiammetta serves primarily as a lead blocker for Matt Forte, and has run the ball 11 times for 26 yards throughout his career, while also producing 130 yards on 12 catches in 50 games with 24 starts.

Fales, meanwhile, joined the Bears as a sixth-round pick out of San Jose State.

Over two seasons at San Jose State, Fales started in 25 games, throwing for 8,382 yards and 66 touchdowns with 22 interceptions. Fales has impressed the staff enough throughout his brief tenure with the Bears, that he would likely develop into a potential backup to starter Jay Cutler.

With the Bears placing cornerback Charles Tillman on the injured reserve, it's expected the club in the coming days will make more roster moves.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn't necessarily accusing the New York Jets of any funny business, but he expressed surprise that they were not surprised by his surprise onside kick in Sunday's game.

McCarthy made the call to try the onside kick with 3:12 left in the second quarter after a field goal cut the Jets' lead to 21-9. Mason Crosby popped the ball up, but the Jets were ready for it and easily recovered.

"I felt like they were in our huddle, frankly," McCarthy said Monday. "Just the way they lined up to it is disturbing to me. It's something we've never shown. It's a formation we've never been in."

Special teams coach Shawn Slocum said Crosby hit the kick exactly how he was instructed, which should have given the Packers a better chance to recover it.

It was a bold move at the time, but it did not cost the Packers anything because cornerback Tramon Williams picked off Jets quarterback Geno Smith on the ensuing possession.

"I kind of pushed the envelope there," McCarthy said. "I was trying to steal a series back, frankly, that we lost at the beginning of the game, and the fact that they had the ball coming out in the second half. Like a lot of times when you make those kind of decisions, a lot of those variables are looked at before the game, so you're able to react to it. The timing of it, I thought the risk was definitely worth it."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have lost one of their core special-teams players, backup linebacker Andy Mulumba, to a knee injury, but starting safety Micah Hyde appears to have avoided a major injury.

Both were injured in Sunday's win over the New York Jets.

Hyde, who was injured at the end of a second-quarter punt return, said Monday that he has some swelling in his left knee but believes it was just a bruise.

"I just took a little shot on the knee cap, nothing serious," he said. "Nothing major. Just a little soreness."

However, Mulumba was not as fortunate. He was injured while covering a punt in the fourth quarter and sustained what coach Mike McCarthy called a "significant" injury. That's usually code for a torn ACL, although McCarthy declined to give specifics.

"It didn't look good during the game, and it doesn't sound very good," McCarthy said.

The most puzzling injury situation, however, was to cornerback Casey Hayward. He did not play at all on defense after playing 36 of 70 snaps in Week 1.

Against the Jets, the Packers used Davon House as their No. 3 cornerback, which was in the plans all along. However, Hayward also did not play in the dime (Jarrett Bush got that call) and defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Hayward may have been dealing with a hamstring injury -- the same injury that limited him to three games last season. Yet Hayward still managed to play 11 special-teams snaps.

McCarthy said Hayward was checked out by the team’s medical staff on Monday but did not have any update. The team does not have to file an injury report for this week's game at the Detroit Lions until Wednesday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have opened up a roster spot.

After promoting Nate Ness from the practice squad Saturday and playing him on special teams Sunday, the Lions released Ness on Monday, perhaps to open up room for another defensive back signing.

The Lions are in need of cornerbacks, having lost Bill Bentley for the season with a torn ACL and Nevin Lawson for an undetermined amount of time -- possibly the season -- after having surgery for dislocated toes.

The Lions cut Ness during the end of training camp and then brought him back to the practice squad as one of the two exceptions instituted by the NFL. He is eligible to return to Detroit's practice squad if the Lions choose to do that.

This leaves Detroit with at least one and maybe two spots open on the roster depending what happens with Lawson.

Marshall happy to ease Bears fans' panic

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
Brandon Marshall could feel the sense of panic in Chicago Bears fans after their team was upset at home in Week 1 by the Buffalo Bills and faced the challenge on Sunday night of winning on the road against the San Francisco 49ers for the first time since 1985.

"It felt like 60 percent of Chicago, of Illinois, started panicking," Marshall said Monday on "The Brandon Marshall Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "It felt like that. 'Our season's over.' "

They were panicking because the favored Bears, despite racking up 427 yards of offense, dropped their opener to a Bills team that has struggled on the road. They turned the ball over three times, including a fumble by Marshall, and the defense allowed 193 yards rushing by Buffalo, a season removed from finishing last in the NFL against the run.

And when the Bears trailed the 49ers 17-0 late in the first half on Sunday night, that panic meter likely cranked up even more. But Marshall, playing on a bad ankle, went a long way in easing that anxiety by catching three touchdowns during a Bears comeback that saw them outscore the 49ers 28-3 over the final 30:13 on Monday night.

"If we can continue to get wins like the one [Sunday night], halfway through the season I think that's when we're really going to hit our mark, because right now we're not where we should be but we have the attitude and the work ethic to get there," Marshall said.

With an 0-2 hole -- and the long odds of making the playoffs that go along with that start -- averted, the Bears are just like each of the other three teams in the NFC North -- tied at 1-1. How good can the Bears be this season? Marshall believes a comeback road win like Sunday's will help them later on in the season.

"I think we can be really good. I think our play shows that, I think our roster shows that, but we've got to put in the work," Marshall said. "A lot of guys are champions on paper, but you've got to build that chemistry, you've got to continue to bond, continue to get better every week. That's the good thing about games like that [Sunday night] where it's tough, but what happens is those games build character, it builds a stronger backbone. That's a better win for us than going in there and blowing out the 49ers.

"For us to come back in that type of environment builds a strong backbone, something that you need to be successful in this game."
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Here’s a weekly look at some numbers behind the Detroit Lions' 24-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

0 – Turnovers caused by Detroit against Carolina.

1 – Reception by Calvin Johnson when Matthew Stafford threw the ball more than 10 yards.

3 – Drops by Lions pass catchers Sunday, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

3.89 – Yards per rush for the Lions on Sunday, 20th in the NFL.

4 – Consecutive road losses by Detroit, dating back to last season.

5 – Receptions by Johnson from 10 yards and in.

11 – Targets to Joique Bell, the second most in Bell’s career.

49 – Yards of both field goals Nate Freese missed against Carolina.

55.0 – Stafford’s QBR on Sunday, 43 points lower than his QBR in the season opener.

62 – Offensive snaps Johnson played Sunday.

66 – Offensive snaps Golden Tate played Sunday.

72.5 – Stafford’s passer rating Sunday, more than 50 points lower than the opening week of the season.

108 – Consecutive games with a reception for Johnson, a franchise record.

130 – Consecutive games played by Stephen Tulloch, the longest active streak for a defensive player in the league.

150 – Don Muhlbach's games with the Lions. He’s the 20th person to play 150 games for the team.

Some statistics provided were courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information. Follow Stats & Information on Twitter @ESPNStatsInfo.

The Film Don't Lie: Bears

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
A weekly look at what the Chicago Bears must fix:

The run-pass ratio remains lopsided for Chicago (35 runs to 83 passes), and although the club faces the league’s top run defense next Monday night in the New York Jets, the Bears need to achieve some balance in that area.

Consider the Bears' run-pass ratio in their 28-20 win over the 49ers in the context that the Bears played catch-up most of the night. But Chicago needs to run the ball into the teeth of New York’s run-stuffing unit to keep it from dictating the flow. If the Jets can make the Bears one-dimensional, they can pin back their ears and come after Jay Cutler.

Matt Forte averaged 4.8 yards per carry in the Bears' opening game against Buffalo. Make him more of a focal part of the offense to get him into the flow of the game while opening up play-action and bootlegs for Cutler to make things happen on the move.