Lions healthy but taking nothing for granted
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Ndamukong Suh says he hopes Jay Cutler is back on the field soon.
Aaron Rodgers, too.
“I like going against Aaron Rodgers and I like going against Cutler,” the Detroit defensive lineman said Wednesday. “I wish them the best, speedy recoveries so they can come back — and go against them and take them down.”
Suh’s tone was not malicious. It simply underscored the attitude the Lions are taking as their NFC North rivals deal with injuries to top players. The Lions aren’t about to rejoice over the misfortune of others, and even after those key injuries in Green Bay and Chicago, Suh and his teammates are taking nothing for granted.
The Lions are tied for first with the Packers and Bears in the NFC North, but Green Bay lost Rodgers to a broken collarbone Monday night, and Cutler hasn’t played for Chicago since Oct. 20 because of a groin injury.
“The race is on. Not necessarily because those guys are out — we have an opportunity because we’re still in the race,” Suh said. “We have an opportunity to play both of those teams in the next four weeks. First and foremost, Chicago is the most important since it’s our next game and that’s a way we can get two games up on them.”
The Lions (5-3) play at Chicago (5-3) on Sunday. It’s not clear when Cutler will return, but if he can’t come back against Detroit, the Bears will have Josh McCown ready.
McCown threw for 272 yards in Monday’s win over Green Bay. The Packers also had to go to their backup when Rodgers left the game and Seneca Wallace was pressed into duty.
“I watched the whole thing and I thought both guys did a great job,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “McCown did a great job of stepping in. He had the whole week to obviously prepare a little bit more than Seneca did.”
The Lions have dealt with injury problems of their own this year. Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush have both missed time — but they appear to be in good shape now, and so is Stafford.
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah had a boot on his left foot Wednesday after hurting his ankle in Detroit’s most recent game, but the Lions are coming off an open date and are ready to make a run at the playoffs.
Detroit could have wide receiver Nate Burleson back soon. He’s been recovering since hurting his left arm in a car crash in late September. Burleson is eager to help his team, but he doesn’t want to hear about the Lions suddenly being division favorites because of a few injuries elsewhere.
“I don’t like being the favorite. I don’t like everybody patting us on our back,” Burleson said. “Go ahead and treat us like you’ve always been treating us. Let us fight our way to the top. Don’t give us anything.”
The game against Chicago is a big one in the division race, even with half the regular season still to come.
“I’m famous for saying I don’t really care about things that aren’t tiebreakers. Well, guess what? Division record is a tiebreaker, so those are all important things for us,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “We want our players to feel that urgency. We can’t control anything other than the game we play this week, but there is urgency every single week.”
The Lions have lost five straight at Chicago, but they did beat the Bears earlier this season. Cutler was intercepted three times in Detroit’s 40-32 victory back in September.
“I love playing against Cutler, he’s a tough guy,” Suh said. “No discredit to McCown, but I want the best shot. Whichever quarterback is healthier, and the healthiest to go and is going to give them their best opportunity, that’s who I want to go against. I want to beat the best no matter what every single week.”
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