The Bears' offensive line faces a greater challenge Monday night against the Lions' defensive line than it's faced all season.
It's accurate to call the Lions' talented line "young," considering Nick Fairley is 24, Ndamukong Suh is 25 and Cliff Avril is 26. But according to Bears coach Lovie Smith, it's also misleading.
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"When I think 'young,' I normally think young meaning they're not quite there, and they're not playing at a veteran-type pace yet," Smith said. "And that's not the case. Suh and those guys were kind of pro-ready a little bit right away.
"What I've seen from their defensive line is a front four that can play the run (and) that can rush the passer. They don't have to blitz an awful lot because of the pressure that they can generate from that four-man rush."
The 2-3 Lions had 10 tackles for loss in last week's overtime victory over the Eagles, with 7 coming from defensive linemen.
They're a lot like the Bears' D-line, which has been the catalyst for a defense that has done most of the heavy lifting during a 4-1 start.
Like the Bears, the Lions get contributions up front from a lot of players. Avril leads the Lions with 3½ sacks and the other end, 12-year veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch, has 2½, as does Suh. Tackle Corey Williams has 2 sacks and Fairley 1½.
"This will be one heck of a challenge against this front," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. "Anybody that plays against this front and doesn't account for the fact that they could take over a game would kind of be foolish.
"Hopefully, we won't be foolish, and we'll go out and have answers, as many as we can, for as hard as they play, as dynamically as they play, as aggressively as they play, as long as they play -- (and) they play through the whistle."
And sometimes they play beyond the whistle, especially Suh and Fairley. Both would be considered huge omissions if they weren't on any "Dirtiest Players in the League" list.
Suh was fined and penalized for delivering a forearm to the back of Jay Cutler's head on a scramble in 2010, and he ripped the quarterback's helmet off on a tackle last year.
But that doesn't concern Tice as much as just blocking the Lions' defensive linemen and keeping them off Cutler. Their prowess will factor into Tice's play-calling Monday.
"We have to look at what we're trying to do offensively, and there are a number of different types of plays that have to be thrown out," Tice said. "Anything where Jay is holding on to 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 (quickly), or they're blocking a whole heck of a lot of bodies in there. But you have to run the football, too."
Bears right guard Lance Louis had the usual complimentary things to say about the Lions' D-line, but he didn't seem overly concerned with their reputation for mayhem.
"I don't think we have to match their nastiness," Louis said. "I just feel like we've got to come out and play our game. We've got some things going ourselves. They're not the only guys who can get down and really get after it.
"I don't care who they line up in front of me. I just like to play football. I just want to go out and just help my team as best as possible and have a good outcome at the end."