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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Free Head Exam: Detroit Lions

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

After the Detroit Lions' 24-13 victory over the Chicago Bears, here are three issues that merit further examination:
  1. Head Exam
    Following their win against the Bears, the Lions take a seat in the examination room.
    Things usually move quickly after a Monday night game. Whether they win or lose, players from the home team typically dress quickly so they can hit the clubs -- er, get home to sleep -- before it gets too late. Coaches often head straight to their practice facilities to begin game planning for the next opponent. So by the time I got to the Lions' locker room early Tuesday morning, I expected it to be a ghost town. Hardly. Coach Jim Schwartz was standing in the middle, holding court with pop star Kid Rock and members of his band. Players were posing for photographs with Rev. Run of Run DMC fame. Music was blaring and no one seemed in a hurry. It was nice to see players and coaches enjoying the victory, and it indicated this group likes being around each other -- an element often missing even from winning teams.
  2. The Lions have two players this week to monitor for concussions. Linebacker Justin Durant was a late scratch Monday night when he exhibited some symptoms in pregame warm-ups, even after he had been cleared to practice last week. And tight end Tony Scheffler couldn't shake a hit to the helmet from Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. Concussions are impossible to predict, but in Durant's case, it's particularly concerning to see symptoms extend into a second week. Fortunately for the Lions, Bobby Carpenter has filled in well. He had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage Monday night.
  3. Speaking of Lions linebackers, DeAndre Levy played a great game and possibly the best of his career. I've watched Lions games where he's been largely invisible, at least to the amateur eye, and this season he's been overshadowed by Durant, Carpenter and Stephen Tulloch. But Levy was tackling with authority Monday night, beginning with the Bears' first offensive play -- a run for no gain by tailback Matt Forte -- and he finished with a career high of 13 tackles. Schwartz said Monday that Levy "played heavy" and was "knocking guys down" when he tackled them. That's a good way to put it, and a great compliment for a linebacker.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
We all know the Lions have a powerful starting defensive line, but their depth has caught me by surprise and is perhaps equally as impressive. Nine players rotated among the four spots, including rookie Nick Fairley, and most everyone produced. Defensive ends Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young each posted a sack. Avril lost a couple more via penalty. Fairley had a quarterback hit. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh made a big fourth-down stop in the first quarter. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch induced at least one false start penalty with some veteran (and legal) pre-snap movement. The Lions have built an athletic and aggressive defensive line group that matches up favorably with anyone in the NFL.