LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Calvin Johnson: "Not hard at all" to dislike Bears; Fox on starting again and more

Posted Sep 26, 2013

Lions All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson doesn't have much love for this week's division opponent

Excuse Calvin Johnson if he’s not sending Charles Tillman and the Bears defense any Christmas cards this year.

No defense and no cornerback have had more success against Megatron over his seven-year career.

In 11 career games vs. Chicago, Johnson has recorded more than 100 receiving yards just twice, once in 2009 (133) at Chicago and another at home in 2011 (130) on Monday Night Football.

Johnson had just 34 and 72 yards, respectively, in two games vs. Chicago last year on way to his record-breaking season of 1,964 yards.

"It’s easy to have a dislike for them," Johnson said Thursday. "It’s not hard at all."

The Bears are usually tough on defense, their fans travel well and they've beaten the Lions nine out of the last 10 times they've played. What's there to like?

But at the same time, Johnson certainly has a lot of respect for that defense and for Tillman.

"They do a good job," he said. "They have guys that have been playing in that system a while. They understand what they need to do, stay as wide as wide and as deep as deep. It’s a game where we really have to be patient and when we get opportunities we really have to take advantage of it.

"I missed a couple last year but you have take advantage of them when you get them from those guys."

Johnson said the Bears defense is set up to frustrate an opponent until they do something stupid. It’s been a good strategy so far, as the Bears lead the NFL with 11 takeaways.

"They just make you beat them," he said. "They want to make the offense make a mistake, make you work your way all the way down the field, dump it off five, ten yards at a time.

"Usually an offense will make a mistake and that’s one area I think we’ve grown in. We cut out some of those foolish penalties, last week I don’t think we had any kind of penalties at all, we just have to keep that kind of football up."

FOX ON STARTING

Jason Fox participated in his second-straight practice Thursday – albeit in limited fashion – and it’s a good sign the right tackle is trending upward after missing the last two games with a groin injury.

"It’s never fun being on the sideline and not being out there," Fox said after practice Thursday. "It’s a good feeling to be out there and I just have to keep putting good days together."

What's still unknown is whether Fox will regain his starting job once he’s all the way back from injury.

He won the job out of training camp and started Week 1 vs. Minnesota. He injured the groin 15 plays into the game. Hilliard replaced him and has started the next two games. Not only that, but Hilliard has played well doing it.

"That’s not my decision," said Fox, when asked if the starting job should be his when he’s ready. "If they give me the job back, then I’ll do the best I can, and if Corey is still playing, then I’ll be his biggest fan.

"I’m going to do all I control and that’s putting in all the effort on the practice field and the decision is up to them."

Expect Hilliard to start at right tackle again this week and then we'll see where it goes from there.

NO PICTURE, NO PROBLEM

When the machine that prints the overhead pictures malfunctioned in the first half in Washington last week, Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he felt like a college coach all over again.

"I spent a lot of years in college, we didn’t have that luxury," he said. "So you just go back to what you do and you know what the looks are, you do more communication with the people in the box. ‘What was the front in coverage? What did you see up there? We saw this, ok, great.’

"And then the players at this level, Matt (Stafford) and our front guys and everything, they’re pretty sharp guys so I think the players did a great job of handling it more so than anybody."

THIRD DOWN CONCERNS

The Lions offense continues to struggle on third down and it’s a bit perplexing to Linehan.

"First half has been good," Linehan said. "It’s been the second-half thing where we have to do a better job of converting."

The Lions are converting at just a 32 percent clip on third down this season, which ranks 24th in the NFL.

"I was disappointed on where we were on third down and not converting," Linehan said of last week’s performance in Washington in particular. "We missed on a third-and-three, a third-and-two and a third-and-one and that’s what you want. If you’re in a third down, that’s what you want.

"So we have to do a better job in second halves converting third downs."