NFC North: Daniel Manning
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
After Detroit’s 48-24 loss at Chicago, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
- Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan made good use of his tight ends Sunday at Soldier Field. About 37 percent of the team’s passes were directed toward Brandon Pettigrew, Will Heller and Casey Fitzsimmons. The trio combined to catch nine of them for 127 yards and a touchdown. If nothing else, future opponents will watch tape of the game and know they can’t ignore the possibility of any Lions tight end taking off down the seams.
- If all Matthew Stafford has is a dislocated right kneecap and nothing more, then both he and the Lions should consider themselves lucky. Adewale Ogunleye’s sack had the look of something that could have been much worse, especially when you watched replays and saw Stafford’s foot stuck in the grass. Stafford might miss one or two games, but his development won’t be impaired much if that’s all he misses.
- I like the way safety Louis Delmas plays. I’m not a big fan of his post-play activities. Most NFL players trash-talk at some point, but Delmas routinely takes it to the taunting level. I could name several occasions from Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, but the most ridiculous example was his decision to point his finger and run through the Bears’ sideline after pushing kick returner Danieal Manning out of bounds in the second half -- AFTER A 43-YARD RETURN. No matter how good his individual play was, that’s not the time to start taking on 53 members of your opponent. Delmas toned it down at about the same time that Ogunleye jumped off the bench and appeared to ask him, ahem, what the heck he was doing. I was thinking the same thing.
Why couldn’t the Lions run in the second half when Chicago backed off its eight-man box and focused on pass coverage? Tailback Kevin Smith had four carries but managed only 7 yards in the third quarter before the game got out of hand. The Bears were inviting the Lions to run after getting burned by receiver Calvin Johnson in the first half, but the Lions couldn’t make the adjustment. That’s one of the primary reasons coach Jim Schwartz was so upset after the game.
Wednesday was a tough day for two NFC North safeties: Chicago's Brandon McGowan learned he will miss the remainder of the season because of a left ankle injury and Green Bay's Atari Bigby apparently will miss at least one game because of a hamstring injury.
McGowan, who has been serving as the Bears' nickelback, will need surgery. He's likely to be replaced by Danieal Manning, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. McGowan supplanted Manning in that role during the preseason but coach Lovie Smith told reporters in Chicago:
"We're very comfortable with Danieal playing. He's always been one of our guys, someone has to start. We're real comfortable, Danieal has played a lot of football around here and again we feel real comfortable with him playing again."
Bigby, meanwhile, sat out all of practice Wednesday. Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters in Green Bay: "I don't think Atari is going to make it this week."