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Published: Sunday, 11/2/2008

Bears taking Lions seriously

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO - No matter how ugly their opponent's record is, the Chicago Bears insist they can't take this week off too.

They already had their bye.

A wise guy might say their second in a row is coming up, considering winless Detroit (0-7) visits Soldier Field today. Don't put the Bears (4-3) in that group.

Defensive end Alex Brown even called the Lions "a good team" that has been victimized by "some mistakes" and warned against a letdown. He cited their 12-10 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 12 and the Bears' 48-41 win over the Vikings the following week as proof that "we've got to come ready to play."

"If we expect it to be like last time, we won't win," Brown said.

"Last time" was a 34-7 romp for the Bears at Ford Field on Oct. 5, but the Lions have a different look now.

Receiver Roy Williams got traded to Dallas, leaving Calvin Johnson as the lone big threat. Quarterback Jon Kitna left the Chicago game with a season-ending back injury, and his replacement, Dan Orlovsky, became a YouTube favorite the following week in the loss at Minnesota when he stepped out of the end zone on a rollout.

No wonder the Lions worked out Daunte Culpepper this week.

They're starving for wins after close calls the past three games.

They lost by seven at Houston before falling 25-17 to Washington last week in a game they led for a good portion.

The Lions offense ranks 29th overall and the defense dead last, but while other coaches might be reaching for tissues, Detroit's Rod Marinelli insisted he has no trouble remaining upbeat.

"We've got great players here in terms of attitude - they are unbelievable," he said. "I wish you could feel the spirit and the energy here, it's awesome. It's on us as coaches to create that, and I don't know if I have ever been as challenged or as excited about every week that starts because of who you are working with and a bunch of guys who are just alive and wanting to get better."

There certainly is room to improve.

In six of the Lions' seven losses, the opposing quarterback had a career-high passer rating. That includes Chicago's Kyle Orton, who had a 121.4 mark while completing 24 of 34 passes for a career-high 334 yards.

Orton has 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, including five scoring strikes and no picks in the past three games.

Orlovsky has looked rather steady for Detroit, that misstep against Minnesota aside.

He is 45-of-81 for 638 yards and three TDs in his three starts, and he's facing a secondary that's trying to shake off a long list of injuries.

Nathan Vasher has not played since Sept. 28 because of a right wrist injury that required pins to be surgically inserted, and Charles Tillman (left shoulder) missed the Minnesota game, as did nickel back Danieal Manning (hamstring). While the starting cornerbacks practiced Thursday without limitations, Manning participated on a limited basis. So did linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who had surgery on his right thumb last week.

Meanwhile, the Lions want to end talk of a winless season.

"It's difficult because we had much different expectations coming into the season than where we are sitting at right now," Orlovsky said. "It's tough to swallow, but at the same time, there is a lot of season left and we know it's a long shot. But we are just focused on playing one week at a time, getting better and going out and trying to get No. 1 and then take a step to get No. 2."



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