Larry Mayer and Simon Kaufman of ChicagoBears.com discuss the Bears players they'll be watching on both sides of the ball in Thursday's game against the Lions in Detroit:
Offense: Receiver Allen Robinson II
Robinson no doubt will attract plenty of attention in the Lions secondary given that he had his best game of the season two weeks ago against Detroit, catching six passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-22 win at Soldier Field. But the veteran receiver is an integral part of an explosive Bears offense regardless of whether Mitchell Trubisky or backup Chase Daniel starts Thursday in Detroit. Trubisky sat out Tuesday's practice and is day-to-day with a right shoulder injury he sustained in Sunday night's win over the Vikings. If he can't play, Daniel will make his first start of the season.
Robinson has been exactly what the Bears expected in his first season in Chicago. A highly respected team leader even though he's only 25 years old, he has been productive on the field, catching 34 passes for 457 yards and four touchdowns despite missing two games with a groin injury. Robinson possesses an excellent combination of size, speed and physicality, in addition to the ability to win 50/50 balls and run after the catch. The 6-3, 211-pounder and his Bears teammates will face a Lions defense that ranks 19th in the NFL in total yards, 24th against the run and 13th versus the pass.
Defense: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks
Hicks has excelled since signing with the Bears as a free agent in 2016 and he may have had the best game of his career Sunday night against the Vikings. The seven-year NFL veteran recorded six tackles, one sack and five tackles-for-loss, tied for the second most by an NFL player this season. Hicks set the tone by stuffing running back Latavius Murray for a one-yard loss on third-and-one, forcing a Vikings punt on their first possession. "He played very well the entire game from start to finish and had some dominating plays in there," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "I think he did a lot for himself to gather offseason honors."
The Bears will need more of the same from Hicks Thursday in Detroit against an injury-depleted but still potent Lions passing game. Receiver Marvin Jones and running back Kerryon Johnson both would not have been able to participate if the Lions had practiced Monday due to knee injuries. But quarterback Matthew Stafford remains dangerous, as does second-year receiver Kenny Golladay, a Chicago native who attended Northern Illinois. The two connected for a game-winning 19-yard touchdown pass Sunday in Detroit in a 20-19 victory over the Panthers.
Offense: Receiver Anthony Miller
Miller has just seven catches in his last two games, but two have gone for touchdowns. The Memphis product has been one of the most efficient receivers in the league—nearly 20 percent of his receptions have resulted in scores this season. The rookie receiver will be critical on Thursday as the Bears look to capture their third straight win over a divisional opponent. The early Thanksgiving Day game parlayed with the Bears' Sunday night game against the Vikings means a tight turnaround. Miller lined up for 42 snaps on Sunday, but he had the fewest reps of any of Chicago's main receivers, so his legs may be a little fresher come Thursday.
Miller will have the advantage this time of being able to study tape from just two weeks ago on how the Lions defended him, but Detroit may try to switch things up after he caught five balls for 122 yards and a touchdown against them two Sundays ago. The Lions gave up 357 receiving yards in their most recent contest but escaped with a win over the Panthers. If they allow as many to Miller and the Bears offense, they shouldn't count on another victory.
Defense: Safety Eddie Jackson
Take a look at Jackson's stats from the last two years, and you might be fooled into thinking he's an offensive weapon with modest numbers. In fact, he's a safety who just has a nose for the ball and the end zone. Jackson has four defensive touchdowns in the past two seasons, the most in the NFL since the start of the 2017 season.
Jackson did it again this past Sunday, picking off Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and taking it 27 yards the other way for the score. Jackson tallied six tackles and a pass deflection when the Bears and Lions met two weeks ago. He'll try to limit Stafford, who threw for 220 yards in a win over the Panthers on Sunday. Stafford may have a little more confidence coming off the victory, but his two interceptions and six sacks the week before in Chicago can't be buried too deep in his memory.
If the Bears pass rushers can put continued pressure on Stafford as they did two weeks ago, it will give Jackson plenty of opportunities to swoop in for another interception to add to his collection this week.
Players return to the practice field on the short work week before traveling to Detroit to play the Lions on Thanksgiving.