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updated: 9/27/2013 6:43 PM

Bears aim to rev up run game against Lions

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  • Bears running back Matt Forte gained a season-best 87 yards in 16 carries against the Steelers on Sunday night.

      Bears running back Matt Forte gained a season-best 87 yards in 16 carries against the Steelers on Sunday night.
    Associated Press file photo

  • Video: Forte talks about the Bears' 3-0 start

 
 

The Bears have had their difficulties running the football this season.

They rank 17th in yards and 22nd in average gain per rush, after facing 3-4 defenses in two of their three games.

The Lions are 15th in rushing yards allowed and 25th in average gain per rush allowed, but their "Wide-9" defense can pose problems for opponents.

In the Wide-9 alignment, the ends line up outside where the tight ends would normally line up, but the Lions bring a safety up near the line of scrimmage to fill gaps.

"They're a team that's going to try to keep everything inside," said Bears coach Marc Trestman. "There's four down (linemen) and three (line)backers, but there's also a fit with a safety in the hole."

With just one safety in coverage, it would appear the Lions might be susceptible to the passing game, but they're in the middle of the pack in pass defense and No. 4 in interception percentage.

"This one will be different," Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said of the Lions' scheme. "They put an extra safety inside the defensive ends, which is a little unusual. So it's another challenge for a new group of linemen and a fullback."

A positive note for the Bears is Matt Forte's season-best effort Sunday night against the Steelers, when he picked up 87 yards on just 16 carries for a 5.4-yard average. Forte has averaged 87.7 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry in 10 outing vs. the Lions.

A little perspective:

Coach Marc Trestman doesn't have any problem keeping a lid on overconfidence that might accrue with a 3-0 record heading into Detroit.

"We're not 3-0," he said. "We're 0-0, and this is Game 1 of 13. That's the reality of it all. There's no light at the end of the tunnel here.

"There's no guarantees at the end of the tunnel that 3-0 is getting us anywhere. It's giving us a chance. Just like hard work each week doesn't guarantee us we're going to win, but it gives us a chance. That's how we're approaching it, that we have to go out on Sunday, and we work all week to try to win all three hours of a game. That's what I'm telling the team, and that's what I believe."

The three corners:

The Bears' three injured cornerbacks are all at various statuses for Sunday's game.

Two-time Pro Bowler Charles Tillman (groin/knee) is questionable after practicing Friday for the first time this week, although he was limited.

"We're reasonably optimistic that he'll be playing," coach Marc Trestman said. We'll see how he feels (Sunday). I won't be making this decision. It will be made by the doctors and trainers with Charles' best interests at heart."

Zack Bowman (knee), who would start if Tillman can't, is probable after his second straight full practice, and backup Sherrick McManis (quad) is doubtful after not practicing all week.

Two Lions starters are questionable; defensive end Ezekiel (Ziggy) Ansah (abdomen) and offensive tackle Jason Fox (groin).

The name game:

Defensive tackle Nate Collins is known to some teammates as "Big Nasty," but he's not on board with the nickname.

"Guys say that, but I don't really know if that's my nickname or not," Collins said. "I don't know if I particularly like that. But guys ... when you say you don't like things, that tends to make guys say it more, so I just try to, when they say it, ignore it or not really react to it."

The replacement:

Defensive tackle Landon Cohen was signed to replace Henry Melton, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL in his left knee.

Cohen has started five games and played in 27 with the Lions (2008-09), Jaguars (2010), Patriots (2010-11) and Cowboys (2013). He has 32 career tackles.

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