Notebook: Calvin Johnson looking forward to second shot vs. Chicago Bears

Posted Dec 27, 2012

As Calvin Johnson looks toward 2,000 yards against the Chicago Bears, Ndamukong Suh could be headed to the Pro Bowl after all and Jim Schwartz comments on Warren Sapp's potential advice for Suh.

Standing in the way of Calvin Johnson and the first 2,000-yard receiving season in the history of the NFL is a Chicago Bears defense that boasts two Pro Bowl cornerbacks and the NFL's No. 6 passing defense.

It also happens to be a defense that held Johnson to his lowest totals for yards (34) and receptions (3) this season in an earlier matchup in October.

Johnson was targeted 11 times in a 13-7 loss at Chicago on Monday Night Football earlier this season, but only came down with three catches. He was dealing with the effects of a stinger and a sore knee at the time, but it was his worst game of the season.

The Bears have been terrific on defense most of the season, forcing 23 interceptions and scoring eight touchdowns. The Lions had four turnovers in the first meeting.

"Man, they've been playing that cover-two system that they have since they've been there," Johnson said of the Bears defense. "They do really well with that, the cover-three and disguising it.

"They do a great job with their safeties and bringing them down really late. From film, we've seen games they haven't done it as much but for some reason when we see them, they do a lot of disguising and stuff. So that makes it harder."

"There were some opportunities that we missed (in the first game), but they do a great job and we play them twice a year so they kind of know us in and out like we know them."

Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice's single-season record for yards last week, needs 108 more to reach the 2,000-yard plateau.

"He just takes a lot of people," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said of defending Johnson. "That's what we base our defense on getting as many guys as possible around the ball.

"Last time we played him isn't going to have much to do with how this game goes. I'll just say we know who he is and we're spending a lot of time trying to come up with a plan to slow him down a little bit. Nobody can stop him."

Johnson talked Thursday about missed opportunities in the game. He dropped a pass deep down the middle of the field on the game's third play that had a chance to be a touchdown and a tone-setter. Instead, the Lions punted after the drop and the Bears marched down and scored to take a 7-0 lead.

The Bears' defense is good, but the Lions helped them out with drops and turnovers the first time around.

"That was one of the first games that we started to see blitz show up," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "Early in the season teams had taken a prevent-type attitude toward our offense. (Teams have now taken) an approach of heating up the offense a little bit with some pressure.

"That was a game that we lost (WR Nate) Burleson fairly early in that game. I don't know if that changed their game plan, but we need to buy some more time for the quarterback, we need to run the football better.

"Turnovers again - we had two turnovers down in plus territory in that game. In a tight game, 13-7 game, that one play could have made a difference. So protect the football, buy some time for the quarterback. I think those are important to be able to continue to get Calvin the football and for him to have a big impact in the game."

News out of San Francisco Thursday was that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Justin Smith has a bone spur attached to a piece of his triceps tendon that became detached in his left elbow, according to the team.

Smith was injured during a Week 15 win over the Patriots and hasn't practiced since. The Sacramento Bee reported Smith is likely to undergo offseason surgery, but the 49ers are hopeful he can play through the playoffs.

That leaves his status for the Pro Bowl in doubt; meaning first alternate Ndamukong Suh could get his trip to Hawaii after all.

Smith, Gerald McCoy (Bucs) and Henry Melton (Bears) earned the Pro Bowl nod over Suh when the teams were announced Wednesday evening.

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said he wouldn't mind sitting down with former defensive tackle Warren Sapp this offseason to have a constructive discussion about the finer points of playing defensive tackle.

Sapp has been openly critical of Suh over the last two years.

"To me, you can be a fan and just criticize me, or you can be a great person and somebody who could be a legend and somebody possibly in the Hall of Fame and teach me something - show me what you think I'm doing incorrectly. Or just continue as a fan, someone who wants to criticize," Suh said Wednesday.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said players seek out that type of advice all the time in the offseason, but's it's nothing he or the team would ever prescribe.

"A lot of our players do that. There's a lot of resources with players, particularly not what our offseason's a little bit longer," Schwartz said of Suh working with Sapp.

"We'll have about four months where we can't really do anything with our players. So in order to improve in the offseason, they can't just take four months off. We've had a lot of different players work out with different guys whether they're current players or former players.

"There's a lot to be learned from guys that have played the game in the past. If that would happen I'm sure there's something that he could improve and something he could pick up."