|Detroit's passing game will go as far as receiver Calvin Johnson takes it. The Lions face San Francisco on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
That said, the Lions are preparing to face a 49ers team Sunday that has its own corps of big-play receivers -- three of whom had at least four Week 1 catches -- and a tight end in Vernon Davis who is every bit Pettigrew's equal.
With both teams capable of gaining large chunks of yards in the air, it's likely that the team with the more successful running game will have a distinct advantage.
“You can see what teams are going to try and do is to stop our pass, because that's what we're dangerous at,” Lions G Rob Sims said. “We've got to go earn everything we can [with the run].”
Sims' belief that the Lions must run the ball well to win, however, doesn't mean that Detroit will become a run-first offense overnight. Instead, Sims said that this offense's version of a successful running game is making effective-enough use of its RBs to force the San Francisco back eight [in a 3-4 defense] to respect the run as a viable threat.
“We want to see yards-per-carry,” Sims said. “Everybody likes to see when you rush for 150 or 200 yards. Sometimes, with what we do [on offense], we're looking more at what we're getting on average.”
On average or otherwise, Detroit faces the difficult task Sunday of trying to run against a 49ers defense that has turned Candlestick Park into a veritable fortress. San Francisco hasn't allowed an opposing RB to rush for more than 100 yards in its last 20 home games.
While Detroit's offense will be trying to figure out how to run the ball, the defense will be tasked with finding a way to stop 49ers RBs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. The pair combined to form the NFL's second-best rushing attack last week -- Detroit ranked 19 -- and Gore torched the Lions' defense for 141 yards en route to a 49ers win over the Lions last season.
Despite Gore's success against Detroit, Suh says the defense's success against “wham" plays -- like the ones Gore capitalized on last season -- in Week 1 vs. the Rams has prepared them to limit Gore's effectiveness Sunday.
“This league is a copycat league,” Suh said. “Everybody's going to see what was successful against us last year and try and implement that.... We saw that last week against St. Louis and we expect to see something similar. We're going to work on [stopping the run] and ironing those things out.”
Vanden Bosch to see less practice time: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch has practiced in each of Detroit's first two Wednesday workouts this season, but coach Jim Schwartz says he will revert to his policy of resting Vanden Bosch on Wednesdays after the veteran completes rehab on his injured knee. “[Vanden Bosch] had an extended period of being [injured] in training camp and [he's] just starting to get his conditioning and his legs underneath him,” Schwartz said. “When it's time [to rest Vanden Bosch on Wednesdays], we'll get back to that.”
Avril gets first sack after the fact: DE Cliff Avril, who led the Lions with 11 sacks last season, was credited with his first 2012 sack after the NFL issued a stat correction Wednesday that affected the final play of the Lions' win over the Rams in Week 1. Avril hit St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford on the play, but he was originally given a tackle instead of a sack because he knocked Bradford forward, toward the line of scrimmage. The change might seem like a simple clerical correction, but Avril used his 2011 sack totals as part of his justification for seeking a big-ticket contract during the 2012 offseason. If the sack Avril now has to his credit helps him repeat his 2011 statistical performance, it could pay significant dividends when he begins contract negotiations after the 2012 season ends.
Injury report: The Lions listed seven players on their Wednesday practice report. Did not practice: WR Calvin Johnson (foot), DE Lawrence Jackson (calf), CB Bill Bentley (concussion), S Louis Delmas (knee), and LB Travis Lewis (quad). Limited: CB Chris Houston (ankle) and DT Corey Williams (knee). San Francisco listed four players on its practice report. Did not practice: WR Ted Ginn (ankle) and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee). Limited: LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder). Practiced in full: P Andy Lee (hand).