TODAY’S NEWS

  • The Lions practiced on the indoor field in shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts) today at the team headquarters and training facility in Allen Park.
  • The team announced today that they have placed DT Marcus Bell and RT Barry Stokes on the reserve injured list and released RB Anthony Sherrell. The Lions also signed DT Langston Moore and RB Lamar Gordon to the active roster and DE Matthew Rice and G Dave Yovanovits to the practice squad. No contract terms were disclosed.
  • The following players have been listed on the Detroit Lions’ injury report: G Ross Verba (groin) is out, LB Teddy Lehman (hamstring) is doubtful and TE Marcus Pollard (hamstring) is questionable. T Jeff Backus (foot), CB Fernando Bryant (concussion) and WR Eddie Drummond (hip) are probable. Backus, Lehman and Verba each missed a portion of team practice today.
  • The following players have been listed on the Chicago Bears’ injury report: LB Leon Joe (hamstring), S Todd Johnson (ankle), RB Thomas Jones (ribs), T John Tait (ankle), CB Charles Tillman (back) and CB Nathan Vasher (hamstring) are questionable. G Ruben Brown (shoulder) and LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (thigh) are probable. Brown, Hillenmeyer, Joe, Jones, Tait and Tillman each missed a portion of team practice today.
  • For the 154th time, the Lions and the Bears will line up against each other in the longest opponent series in team history, this time on Christmas Eve. Last week, Detroit (2-12) suffered a 17-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers, while Chicago (12-2) clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a 34-31 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement: “Just an injury update: (Ross) Verba is out – groin. Teddy Lehman is doubtful. Marcus Pollard is questionable. (Jeff) Backus is probable – foot. Fernando Bryant – concussion, is probable. Eddie Drummond – hip – we’ll look at that as probable right now.”

On if CB Fernando Bryant practiced today: “Yeah.”

On if he expects to have Bryant play this weekend: “(I) think so, yeah. He looked like he had his hat on and (he moved) around a little bit today. So, we’ll wait to see how (he is) after practicing. Hopefully he’ll be up and it’ll be good.”

On if he is unable to put G Ross Verba on IR right now: “The whole thing is, you got to look to see if it’s a six week injury or not. That’d be the whole issue, if it’s six weeks or not (and) if it’s determined to be that right now or not.”

On if he thinks Verba will be out for the remainder of the season whether or not he’s on IR: “(We’ll) probably see that at the end of the week. Really, I don’t know. If we could have picked up the spot, we probably would. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to be there. So, it’s just nagging right now for him.”

On what the reason is he’s not on IR: “It has to be a six week injury.”

On if he can’t be placed on IR with two weeks left: “I don’t know. It’s the way they look at it.”

On the fact that his fourteenth player was just placed on IR and if it’s getting out of hand and when does it become disastrous: “The positive is that we’ve brought a ton of guys in that we’re working in right now. But, no it is what it is. That’s all I can say. It is what it is and you just move forward and hopefully some of these other men come up. We had some guys really step-up last week that we didn’t know that much about. (They) got an opportunity and really played well.”

On how there’s a reason he went out and signed these guys and paid them money to be the starting line-up and now he can’t play with them: “Yeah.”

On if he can expound on that: “It would have been nice to have them here, but they’re not. They’re injured with various injuries: from high ankle sprain, to a knee, to broken hands (and) a broken foot. All different types of things: knee surgeries, shoulders, all different types of things popped up.”

On what QB Rex Grossman has shown him: “A winner; 12-2 leadership. He’s shown a lot of grit – toughness, come back plays, a good game here and there. He’s showed us the guy knows how to win.”

On if he will look at the off-season conditioning program to make sure everything is running as it should: “I think we look at that each and every thing. You have to look at every phase. You have to look at it. If it was just one kind of – seven injuries of the same one, you’re looking (at the staff). But, there are so many different types (of injuries): concussions, to foot, to knee (and) to all different body parts. But that’s something at the end of the season you go through and list every one and see how they occurred. (Find out), hopefully, why and how to stop it.”

On if he was satisfied with the off-season conditioning program: “Oh participation was great. Al (Bellamy) is outstanding and the guys in here doing it.”

On since he is handling the defensive line duties will he do the same thing that was done against Seattle: “Yeah.”

On if G Stephen Peterman and G Frank Davis will be the two guards this weekend: “Yes.”

On if T Jonathan Scott will be the tackle: “Yes.”

On what are you looking for out of your guys: “A team that goes out and prepares and competes to win.”

CONFERENCE CALL WITH BEARS HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
On how long he plans on playing his starters and what the rotation will be:
“We’re trying to win a football game. So, our plan is to play them just like we would any other game.”

On if he took into consideration the risk of injuries: “Not really. You weigh risk everyday you practice. I mean, we have two more games left in the season. It’s good to know we’re in the playoffs and all of that, but we want to stay as sharp as possible and we still have goals to accomplish. We would like to continue to have success in our division.”

On what he’s told the team in terms of that: “That’s just what I’m telling you.”

On if we should expect any vacations: “There’s no reason for a vacation guys. I mean, we have a game to play and it’s kind of as simple as that. We’re practicing today, we’re practicing tomorrow – we’re going through our same routine that we use each week. That’s what the team is going on.”

On if it’s a fear for a coach that the team loses its edge that took 14 weeks to build: “Well, if you start taking off and shutting it down, yes that could happen. That’s why you just have to – each week is, you know, something in itself. That’s why we’re following in this way of thinking.”

On from an accomplishment standpoint, is it good to know that they’ve got home field advantage throughout the playoffs: “Yes, that is comforting to know. That was one of our goals first, to win the division. We were fortunate enough to do that and get into the playoffs. But, after that we – it’s a tough place to play, here at Soldier Field and we wanted to try to achieve some more of our goals here at home in front of our home crowd.”

On how much he found out about QB Rex Grossman during his struggles and the way he came through it: “That’s a good question. We found a lot about all of us, as I see it. Of course, (I learned) a lot about Rex, but things that I already knew. I mean, Rex Grossman is one of the – he’s a great competitor, he has a lot of confidence in himself and I think what Rex was able to see is how much confidence the team has in him. All quarterbacks will go through struggles from time to time (and) players in general will do that. But, he’s our guy. Again, we like him leading our team and hopefully he can lead us (to) exactly where we want to go.”

On if giving QB Brian Griese a little extra practice time served as a spur for Grossman: “No, I mean we – I mean, Griese gets practice reps each week. We did give him a few more reps and Rex knew at the same time everyone has to play to a certain level and Rex knew that. I mean, Brian Griese is a good quarterback in his own right and it was no more than that.”

On when Rod Marinelli took over in Detroit there was a lot of comparison with his situation here to his former situation in Tampa, as well as the situation Smith had when he took over in Chicago in terms of how Smith struggled at the start of the season but came out at the end of the year and how that’s not happening here: “Well, if you look at our first season, we laid a foundation our first season. It’s what we did in Tampa, it’s what we did here in Chicago and that’s what I see happening in Detroit. We didn’t finish strong our first year, we were – in 2004 Green Bay blew us out the last game of the season. But, we still laid a foundation to build on and that’s what I see happening in Detroit and with what Rod is trying to do.”

On how he sees that happening: “Well, first off, you have to come in and establish what you want to do. You establish your system: offensive, defensive and special teams – and just the philosophy that you’re going to have on how you’re winning football games. That’s what I see being done.”

On how he said they didn’t finish out strong in 2004, but he won some games towards the end: “We won five games during the season. We won three games in the middle part of the season. I remember that season vividly, believe me.”

On from that standpoint as a young head coach, is it hard to stay on track mentally with what you believe in despite a lack of results on the field: “I think it’s easier to do that if you really believe in what you’re doing and I know Rod definitely believes in what he’s doing. What he’s doing has a proven success rate, so I think it’s easy when you’ve been through the situation before and you know that they’re going to work.”

On how much he’s talked to Marinelli and how he’s handling it: “Rod is – of course we talk – as far as how he’s handling it, I mean, it’s tough when you’re not doing as well as you would like. But again, we’re not talking about a sprint. It’s a longer race than that and you get some things done and each day you try to do a little bit more.”

On how it’s not a sprint, but does he think Marinelli will get the full marathon here: “All I know is Rod Marinelli is an excellent football coach. He has a plan and when you bring someone in they normally give you time to implement your plan. It’s hard to put that plan into play immediately.”

On how important it was to have the defense be that one solid side of the ball going forward and how when he first got to Chicago that was a priority: “Well, I think it’s important to – of course, eventually you want to get all (of) offense, special teams and defense going. But, you just have to attack one. A lot of times your team is set up where you can attack one a little bit better then you can to others. Our situation, we were in better position to do something on the defensive side of the football when we got here. But, you know, situations are different in different places.”

On what he did was add to what was already a pretty good thing: “Well, you say when we got here? Well, yeah, I mean we had a few – (Brian) Urlacher was here, (Lance) Briggs, we had three Pro Bowlers on defense that came out yesterday (and) two of them were already here. So, yeah that helped a lot.”

On if he thinks Marinelli is in a tougher spot in Detroit than he was when he took over in Chicago and how it compares to Tampa: “We were in a tough spot in Tampa. We were in a tough spot here, but our team was 7-9 when I got here. So, it’s not like we were starting from scratch and Rod was in a tough situation. And again, in Tampa we made it work and of course we made it work here. I believe the same thing will happen in Detroit. I just hope it doesn’t happen this weekend, of course.”

CONFERENCE CALL WITH BEARS QB REX GROSSMAN
On how he approaches a game like this when everything is pretty much sewn up and their playing a team riddled with injuries: “I think everyone’s going to approach it the same way they always do. It’s a football game. It’s fun to play. Every single game is a lot of intensity and you need to come out and match that intensity and have fun and go play. I think that rarely out there in the regular season you’re thinking about anything but what’s going on right at that moment. I think it should be no different.”

On if he expects to play the whole game: “Yeah, I expect to. I think that Coach (Lovie) Smith has told us that we want to end the season playing our best football and that’s our goal right now.”

On how he’s shown a competitive edge in the last games this season with some of the things he’s gone through: “Having fought through a couple of injuries and having to come back from that and just the confidence I have in my abilities. And apart from that one game, I know that I have the ability and the players around me to have a great game every game. So, I just kept my confidence and the players and coaches had my back. I fought through a slump and now I’ve had a couple of pretty good games. I want to continue that on into the playoffs so that there’s no let down at all.”

On if it helps that the questions came from the outside as opposed to inside in the locker room: “Yeah, that was huge. I mean, I think that the players know what I can do and know that I can do it on a consistent basis (after) going through mini camp and OTA’s and training camp and through the preseason and on into the regular season. I’ve played pretty well for awhile and had a few bad games and no one lost any confidence in me. In turn that gave me even more confidence to come back and get through some of the bad games that I’ve gone through.”

On if he likes the idea of keeping all starters in going into this game despite the possibility of putting them at risk for injuries: “Yeah, I think that I like it, from a players perspective. I think it’s fun. I mean, I like to play the game. I’d do it for free if they didn’t pay us. It’s something that I love to do and I love to go out there and compete. I think that everyone will have that same mindset just because, like I said before, it’s an intense game that you have to bring a lot of emotion to no matter what the situation is.”

On if he just game plans for the Lions or if he works on other things as well knowing what’s coming up in a couple of weeks: “Yeah, we’re game planning the Lions and that’s all we’re thinking about. We’re not saving any plays or doing anything different. We’re trying to win the game and from what I understand from our coordinator, our approach isn’t going to be any different.”

On how the Lions defense has to look different since the first time he played them: “Yeah, there’s definitely some key injuries, especially to the defensive line and things like that. But, there’s a lot of talent on that side of the ball. They’ve played well the last couple of weeks and we’re going to need to be really sharp to have a good game.”

On what the city of Chicago is like right now with the winning Bears team: “Well, it’s pretty crazy. I think they’re excited. I think they’re cautiously optimistic because we’ve lost the last two home playoff games. But, no doubt, everyone’s excited.”

On if there have been any arguments in the quarterback room between him and QB Brian Griese over who should have gotten to play for the National Championship: “A little bit, you know, definitely. He’s got his opinion and I’ve got mine.”

On if they (the media) can take a wild guess over what his opinion is: “Yeah, I think you guys know what the deal is there. But, we definitely had some interesting conversations about it.”

On why Griese is wrong: “Why is he wrong? Well, I guess my opinion is extremely biased, but the one thing – the two things that I think of is: Florida won their conference and Michigan has already played Ohio State. So, they got their chance. I know it was an away game and all of that, but they got to line-up against Ohio State and I think Florida deserves their shot to line-up and see if they can beat them.”

On if he has any mixed emotions having grown-up in Big Ten country: “Oh, no, not at all. I was an IU fan and that doesn’t mean that I like Michigan at all.”  Courtesy of the Lions.