Dangerous Lions have big-play ability

Q. What's your biggest concern this week for the Bears, a supposedly superior team coming off a big win, going into Detroit?

A. The Lions still have (wide receivers) Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. Jon Kitna can throw the ball, and he's not unintelligent about the game of football. Sometimes he makes bad decisions, but he's smart enough to play the game. As the season evolves and backups have to start getting some meaningful time, especially when the opponent has two guys like those receivers, you always have to be afraid of their big-play ability.

Q. Considering that, how much will it hurt the Bears if their biggest and most physical corner, Charles Tillman, or the other corner, Nate Vasher, can't play or are less than 100 percent?

A. It's going to hurt, but then there's a greater obligation for other players.

The offense has to make it an obligation to stay on the field so they limit the opportunities that Detroit's offense has.

The defensive front seven has to play a better game than they've played, just to give the defensive backs some relief.

When you watch the Lions on tape, it's not like you're getting ready to play the most talented team in the league. You're getting ready to play a competitive team that you should beat whether it's home or away.

Q. Can the front seven do that without Tommie Harris?

A. Last week they beat Philadelphia with Tommie on the sideline. Anthony Adams is getting an opportunity to play, and he's been champing at the bit.

On the third-down play on the goalline stand, it was all Anthony Adams. So they do have players who are playing very well, including Israel Idonije.

They're a better team if Tommie's in there playing at 100 percent, but they're not a worse team with Anthony Adams playing in place of an injured Tommie Harris.

Q. What's your opinion of Nick Roach taking plays away from Hunter Hillenmeyer at strong-side linebacker?

A. It's good. I'm a big believer in dangling that carrot in front of the (younger guys) to make the veterans play better. If you start giving someone opportunities, you're kind of tugging on the strings of that veteran, and you see if they go into a shell or if it motivates them to work harder and play better.

Hunter had a sack in the Philadelphia game. He showed up. Hunter has never been a guy that you have to question his effort - never. Intelligence wise, he's right at the top of the list, but when you look at athletes in the big picture in the NFL, eventually there's going to be someone who's going to come up behind you where athleticism sets them apart as a better option.

But Nick Roach has to be put in some heavy scenarios and he's got to come through them successfully. It's going to be an interesting battle to see if Nick holds up to the responsibilities they give him, and if Hunter gets more motivated because of the reps that have been taken away.

Q. What has been your impression of second-year cornerback Corey Graham, who might see a lot of action if Charles Tillman and/or Nate Vasher can't go?

A. He's got all the characteristics it takes to play cornerback in the NFL. He's been in the right position at the right time for the majority of the snaps.

But one play against the Bucs he was lined up on the opposite side of the field from the receiver and then he came running over at the last second. Sometimes that puts a question mark in your head.

As far as talent, size and speed, I think he belongs on an NFL field. I'm not fearful because he may get an extended opportunity to play.

Tom Thayer answers key questions each week from Daily Herald Sports Writer Bob LeGere. Thayer's analysis also can be heard during each Bears broadcast on WBBM 780-AM.

Detroit Lions' Roy Williams is tackled by San Francisco 49ers' Walt Harris after making a reception in the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Sept. 21. Associated Press
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