Megatron has yet to explode on Bears
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has recorded a pair of 100-yard games in nine meetings with the Bears, but he hasn't dominated them as he has some other teams.
"We've got a guy named Charles Tillman, No. 33, he's a Pro Bowl corner," said Bears 5-foot-8 cornerback Tim Jennings. "So we're going to try to match up with his size and kind of let those guys go after it."
At 6-feet-2, 198 pounds, Tillman matches up with the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson about as well as any cornerback could.
"Megatron" has never caught more than 1 TD pass in any season against the Bears. In nine games, he has 45 receptions for 695 yards and 4 scores. That's an average of 5 catches for 77 yards and 0.44 TDs.
"He is a big, physical man," Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said of Tillman, although he could have described Johnson the same way. "We know all his skills — takeaways, ball skills, tackling, all those things. But something that really stands out, he is about as competitive as any man on this team. He's special like that. He loves a challenge."
He'll have one tonight.
The Bears would have been interested in Cliff Avril had the Lions allowed their 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end to hit free agency last off-season.
He leads Detroit with 3½ sacks and paced them last season with 11. He had 5 as a rookie when Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was the Lions' head coach.
"Rod really kind of found him, I guess you could say, way back in the day," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "He's not the biggest guy around, and people always talk about him being undersized and all that, but he's just quick — quickness off of the edge. He can play the run also. So he'll be a challenge for us."
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher says he's not always aware of who's playing in front of him on the defensive line, which has employed an effective rotation of 7-8 players.
"Throughout the game, I don't know who's in there," Urlacher said. "But if it's a key situation, I want No. 90 (Julius Peppers) in there, I know that much."
The important thing, Urlacher said, is how effective the rotation has been.
"I know at the end of the game they're fresh; that's all that matter to me," he said. "It's been a good situation because we have so many guys here who can play. They're all making plays."
It's about us:
Defensive end Julius Peppers was asked on a conference call with the Detroit media what he thought about quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson not yet collaborating on a TD pass this year.
"I don't think anything about it and, to be honest with you, I haven't really studied how other teams are playing them," Peppers said. "We're only concerned about ourselves. What works for another team may not work for us.
"We're not really concerned about how they've been playing or what other teams do against them. We need to concentrate on what we need to do."
Mind and body:
Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has a simple solution for dealing with the Lions' reputation of playing past the whistle.
"We talk about what it takes to win a game," Marinelli said. "It takes discipline and it takes playing really, really hard and really smart. They work together. Hard and smart work together. Do the things it takes to win the game and execute our style of defense."
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