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Detroit Lions Strategy And Personnel 10-7-11

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ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02:  DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball against Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions during the second half at Cowboys Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, TX – OCTOBER 02: DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball against Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions during the second half at Cowboys Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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The expectation was that the Lions would be out looking for a veteran safety to fill in on a short-term basis, but no such signing has occurred.

That means Amari Spievey’s hamstring injury isn’t considered too severe. Spievey, who starts at strong safety opposite Louis Delmas, went through stretching drills with the team on Wednesday and then worked indoors with a trainer. But with Erik Coleman (ankle) out, the Lions are still thin at the position. Besides Louis Delmas and Spievey, only John Wendling, a special teams ace, is on the 53-man roster.

Rookie Ricardo Silva is on the practice squad, but he is a developmental player not deemed ready to step in.

PLAYER NOTES

–S Vincent Fuller, who played in Tennessee for six seasons, was signed Wednesday night. He is expected to fill in on special teams and provide depth at safety in the absence of Erik Coleman, who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Fuller played mostly as a nickel back and special teams player for the Titans. He can also play safety. He is expected to fill in at safety and special teams in the short term. Not only is Coleman out, but starting strong safety Amari Spievey is hampered by a sore hamstring.

–DT Nick Fairley (foot) practiced for the second straight day Thursday. It was the first time he’s worked on consecutive days and the first time he’s been in pads since breaking his foot on Aug. 1. ESPN was reporting that Fairley will make his pro debut Monday night. However, neither Schwartz nor Fairley would confirm that. Schwartz, actually, seemed to indicate the opposite. He said on Wednesday that there would be a progression to Fairley’s return. “We won’t go from zero to 100 with him,” Schwartz said.

–QB Matthew Stafford has probably given more interviews to national media outlets these past couple of weeks than he has since his draft day. To say that he’s not overwhelmed by it is an understatement. “It’s part of playing in the NFL,” he said. “If you are successful, you have to talk to people who are on television that more people watch. But they don’t ask me any different questions than you guys do.”

–SS Amari Spievey (hamstring) did not practice at all Thursday. He said he still expects to play on Monday.

–OLB Justin Durant (concussion) was a limited participant Thursday, though he expects to practice fully on Friday. “You can’t really play games with the brain,” he said. “It’s a serious issue. They are taking it slow and I am being patient, as well. We need to make sure the symptoms don’t come back. I will go out and get my heart rate up and hopefully participate full tomorrow.”

–WR Rashied Davis (foot) did not practice.

–OT Jacques McClendon was released to make room for S Vincent Fuller.

GAME PLAN
For some inexplicable reason, Bears QB Jay Cutler has owned the Lions in his career. In four games, all victories, he’s never had a passer rating under 100 — his average is 112.9. He has thrown for 1,023 yards in those four games, with nine touchdowns and just one interception.

Somehow, some way, the Lions have to find a way to put him under some duress. It’s difficult because he throws so many short, control passes, but they have to make him uncomfortable and force some turnovers.

Offensively, if the Lions can slow DE Julius Peppers and keep LB Brian Urlacher’s damage to a minimum, they should be able to move the ball. The Bears rank 31st in total defense and 29th in pass defense. If Stafford has time, he should be able to pick them apart.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Lions LT Jeff Backus vs. Bears DRE Julius Peppers — Backus played Peppers about as well as he can be played in the season opener last year at Soldier Field. Backus, in fact, made one bad play. But on that play, Peppers blew by him and slammed QB Matthew Stafford to the ground, injuring his throwing shoulder. The spotlight has been on Backus a lot early in the season. He has already battled Kansas City’s Tamba Hali, Minnesota’s Jared Allen and last week he did a solid job on Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware. Peppers has nine sacks in six games against the Lions in his career.

Lions MLB Stephen Tulloch vs. Bears RB Matt Forte — Forte has been a serious Lions killer in his career. In six games he’s averaged 126.2 total yards (83 rushing, 43 receiving) with a touchdown in each game. He had touchdown receptions of 89 and 28 yards in the first game against the Lions last season. Tulloch is coming on strong. He had a team-high 12 tackles last week with an interception. He might be shadowing Forte this week.

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