Notebook: Matthew Stafford missing Brandon Pettigrew; Chicago's plan for covering Calvin Johnson

Posted Dec 26, 2012

There's no doubt Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has missed his big tight end over the last two games.

Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew may drop a pass from time to time - he has eight total on the season, according to Stats LLC - but there's no doubt quarterback Matthew Stafford has missed his big tight end over the last two games.

"He's a really good player. He's talented," Stafford said. "Obviously he's a really good blocker in the run game and the pass game for us when he's called on to block. In the receiving game he had (57) catches before he was injured, so he's a guy in the red zone we relied on a lot and as a chain mover, too."

Pettigrew is the team's second-leading receiver with 57 catches for 556 yards. And without receivers Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles, he was the team's most consistent receiving threat outside of Calvin Johnson.

Pettigrew hasn't played or practiced since injuring an ankle in the first quarter at Green Bay Dec. 9.

Over the last two weeks, the Lions have missed Pettigrew's size advantage on third down and especially in the red zone.

On the season, Pettigrew has 15 third down receptions for 136 yards with a touchdown. Of those 15 catches, 11 have resulted in a first down. All three of Pettigrew's touchdowns on the season have come in the red zone, one on third down.

"Anytime you have a tight end that's a mismatch for other teams it's a bonus," Stafford said. "On third down that's a short throw to have to make. Most of the time he's somewhere in front of you and with his body size and hands he creates tough matchups on third down in the red zone."

Over the last two games, tight ends Tony Scheffler, Will Heller and Shaun Chapas have combined for a total of 13 catches and 129 yards with no scores.

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said there's been no update or change in status for Pettigrew so far this week. He did not practice Wednesday.

Not many teams have been able to contain Lions record-breaking receiver Calvin Johnson this season, but the Bears did a pretty good job the first time around.

Johnson was targeted 11 times in that Monday Night game at Chicago back on Oct. 22, but had just three catches for 34 yards. It was his lowest output of the season.

"We had some opportunities that we didn't cash in on in that game and ... I think of an early third down, we didn't connect on a play that could have been a big one," Stafford said of the Lions 13-7 loss. "Maybe a couple in the red zone too, so hopefully we can just continue what we've been doing the last seven or so games, whatever it is, and Calvin will have another good one."

Johnson dropped what could have been a long touchdown on the third play of the game, and Stafford under-threw a fade route in the corner of the end zone when Johnson had one-on-one coverage.

Chicago Bears safety Major Wright said the key to containing Johnson is to be physical with him at the line of scrimmage, which he thought the Bears did a good job of in their first meeting.

"Well for one, you definitely got to get your hands on him on the line," Wright said in a conference call. "You have to be physical with him on the line because if you do let him build up any type of speed it's basically hard to stop him. But you get a jam on him early, throw him off his route a little bit and play him over the top."

Former Lions tackle Lomas Brown has gotten himself into some hot water recently when he told ESPN Radio that he intentionally missed a block in a game in Green Bay back in 1994 so quarterback Scott Mitchell could be knocked out of the game.

Mitchell was 5-for-15 for 63 yards and two interceptions when Packers defensive end Sean Jones hit him, resulting in a broken finger on Mitchell's throwing hand.

"I'm just glad he's not blocking for me," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday when asked about Brown's comments. "I'd have to be really nice to him, I guess."