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3 players to watch: Detroit Lions need rookie defensive end Devin Taylor to step up
Justin Rogers – MLive.com
Here are three players to watch when the Detroit Lions travel to Chicago to play the Bears today:
Defensive end Devin Taylor
Whether or not Taylor gets the nod in place of injured starter Ezekiel Ansah, the fourth-round draft pick out of South Carolina will have a significantly expanded role against the Bears.
A scout’s take: Lions now believe in word team
Russ Bolinger – Detroit Free Press
Two weeks ago, Mathew Stafford led the Lions to one of the most memorable comeback wins in team history. The Bug Doc called it Stafford’s “peak experience.” My kid just called it a pretty tricky “sneak” play. I like my kid’s version.
Before the sneak, the Lions had made too many mistakes to beat the Cowboys. But Stafford and his teammates kept competing. Doc says they call that “finishing the game.” Calvin Johnson finished so well he caught 14 passes for 329 yards, the second-most receiving yardage in a game in NFL history. It ain’t hype when they win.
All three teams are 5-3 with identical home records (3-1), road records (2-2) and division records (2-1), but you get the feeling now that it’s going to come down to Detroit or Chicago.
And as timing would have it, look who’s facing each other today at Soldier Field: It’s the Lions vs. the Bears, Round 2. Detroit won the previous matchup back in September, 40-32, and another win could put the Lions in the driver’s seat.
“This is an NFC North game,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz told reporters. “There are three teams tied at the top. Not only would that be a win for us, it puts a loss on the Bears.
“I’m famous for saying I don’t really care about things that aren’t tiebreakers. Well, guess what? Division record is a tiebreaker. Those are all important things for us. We want our players to feel that urgency.”
Bears-Lions DB Viewers Guide: Healthy Tillman projects as defense’s ‘tipping point’
John Mullin – CSN Chicago
With the troubles running through the pass rush (before Green Bay at least) and struggling linebackers, maybe it shouldn’t be any surprise at all that the Bears’ secondary has been the target of both critics and offenses.
Add to that the troubles with Charles Tillman’s knee, taking him out of the second half in three games that included the Detroit game, and the problems were borderline predictable. The mission statement now is holding to a sound course:
“We just want to see those guys continue to play fast, play with confidence, be where they’re supposed to be and make the plays that are there for them to make, and that’s all,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. “We want these guys to play smart, that’s knowing your assignment and doing your job, play fast, read in the key, where does you key tell you to go, and then be physical.
“And if we can do that as a unit, we’ll get better and that’s really what it comes down to so the message to all the guys regardless of position is all the same.”