In his seven record-setting years in the NFL, Lions wide receiver Calvin "Megatron" Johnson has developed a high-profile competition with Bears two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman.
Since the 2007 season, no one in the NFL has more receiving yards (8,104) or receiving touchdowns (57) than Johnson. But few, if any, cornerbacks have done a better job of keeping Megatron in check than Tillman, who is battling knee and groin injuries and did not practice Wednesday but hopes to play Sunday. Johnson (knee) also was held out Wednesday but is expected to start.
"He's a big, strong, physical corner," the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson said of the 6-2, 198-pound Tillman. "He's smart. He's seen a lot of football, so he understands some of the concepts, probably, that we do on offense, so we've got to throw different things at him to get him off balance."
In their most recent confrontation, Johnson caught 5 passes for 72 yards in the 2012 season finale at Ford Field. In their first meeting last season, Johnson was held to season lows of 3 catches and 34 yards, but he says he looks forward to the challenge.
"He's one of the top corners in the league," the Lions' go-to guy said. "He definitely does it well, and he's been a consistent player for a long time."
In 2011, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards in two games against the Bears, but the previous year he had two-game totals of just 7 catches for 111 yards.
While the Megatron-Peanut matchup is worthy of main event status, it doesn't come with any trash talking.
"We're cool. We're cordial. I can say that," Johnson said, laughing.
Asked specifically if he would warn his rookie offensive linemen about reacting to the often-over-the-top antics of frequently fined and penalized Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Bears coach Marc Trestman was more concerned with general guidelines.
"I'm not sure about that on the other side," Trestman said. "We're all aware of things that have happened to him. But we're really just focused on continuing to take care of the football and try to create turnovers and have great team discipline on the road.
"It's going to be noisier there than it was in Pittsburgh, so we've just got to stay focused on doing on what we need to do. With our young guys it's just fundamentals and techniques. They're not a complicated defense. They don't have to be because they're very good up front."
Live by the sword:
With 3 sacks of Ben Roethlisberger, the defense increased its season total to 5. But 2 of the sacks on Big Ben came from middle linebacker D.J. Williams in a game where the Bears blitzed more than in either of the first two weeks.
"It's just another way to get a pass rush," coach Marc Trestman said. "(Defensive coordinator) Mel (Tucker) sees things in structure and scheme that he thinks he can take advantage of, and the defensive guys do, and we decided to go in that direction. There wasn't an overhaul of doing things differently here. It was just two or three more blitzes than we probably normally run in a game."
Three cornerbacks made the injury report Wednesday. Charles Tillman (groin/knee) and Sherrick McManis (quad) did not practice, and Zack Bowman (knee) was limited.
For the Lions, wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee), safety Louis Delmas (knee) and guard Rob Sims (shoulder) did not practice.