The Lions brought back a familiar face this week when they signed running back Joique Bell on Tuesday. Bell spent four seasons with the team from 2012-1015.
Bell re-joins the Lions as they deal with some injuries at running back. Theo Riddick (wrist) missed some practice time this week while Dwayne Washington (ankle) was limited. Both are listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
Their availability will probably determine how Bell fits into the running back rotation, if at all.
But regardless of Bell's role on Sunday, he's going to have a big weekend. He's getting his master's degree from Wayne State on Saturday.
"It's funny because I've always preached that to the kids that I'm trying to mentor or kids that come to my camps how important education is," Bell said Wednesday. "For me to be able to walk across that stage Saturday, I don't want to tell them to do something I haven't done."
"For me to go back to my alma mater and to finish my master's degree there and be able to have my son there will probably be one of the greatest experiences I'll ever have as a father."
This week's opponent, the Chicago Bears, are out of playoff contention, but they will happily play the role of spoiler if they can.
"We definitely want to spoil it for anybody that can," Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard said in a conference call with Detroit media Wednesday.
"Coach (John) Fox, he talked about we won't have a winning record overall, but we can still have a winning record in our division and set up momentum for next year to let them know they're going to have to go through us. That it's not going to be easy when they play against us."
Howard rushed for 111 yards on 23 carries (4.8 avg) the last time these two teams met, so the Lions will likely be paying him special attention.
"I definitely saw it last week," Lions safety Glover Quin said of Howard. "He was playing outside in the snow. Those boys from San Francisco were cold. Man, you see that game. Those boys from San Francisco were cold.
"They ran the ball (40) times ... you've got to tackle that big back (40) times in the cold. Luckily, we went to Chicago and Green Bay early (this year). The league always sends us there late in the year."
After a somewhat bumpy start to the season, wide receiver Golden Tate has turned things around in a big way.
Since Week 4, Tate has 51 catches for 666 yards, including last week's 66-yard touchdown in New Orleans.
"If I could do it all over again I wouldn't change anything," Tate said Thursday of his slow start. "It kind of just lit a fire under me and from then on I've just kind of been rolling."
"It would have been easy to get down on our season early, but we stayed with it. We knew and we know we're a good team when everyone just does their job. Once guys started doing that we started winning ball games."
The Lions hold their two-game lead over the Packers and three-game lead over the Vikings after a win in New Orleans this past Sunday.
A victory over the Bears would keep their lead in the NFC North, and add a W to their division record.
For Mike O'Hara's full playoff outlook, click here.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- Get in the holiday spirit with Darius Slay, Glover Quin and Nevin Lawson as they go caroling in downtown Detroit.
- Kicker Matt Prater was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the third time in his past four games.
- You asked. Now watch rookie safety Miles Killebrew answer your fan-submitted questions in this week's #AskALion episode.
- Catch up on all the news from Teryl Austin's and Jim Bob Cooter's Thursday press conferences.
- Watch Tori Petry's report on the annual Shop with a Lion event where players take kids Christmas shopping for them and their families at Meijer.