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The lone bright spot on the Detroit Lions defense this year has been a secondary that ranks fourth in the NFL against the pass in yards allowed per game.

Now that unit will be without its best player.

The Lions ruled Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay out of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears because of a knee injury he suffered in practice last week.

Slay played through the injury in last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but he struggled in coverage and sat out practice the past three days.

Though Slay has not played at the same level he did last season, when he tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions, he has been the most productive player in the Lions’ secondary.

Slay has two of Detroit’s three interceptions, and the team has routinely trusted him to cover its opponent’s best receiver.

Nevin Lawson, who held Adam Thielen to his sub-100-yard receiving game of the season last week, takes over as the Lions’ No. 1 cornerback, and DeShawn Shead should start on the opposite side.

Shead played ahead of struggling second-year cornerback Teez Tabor most of last week.

The Bears, 5-3 and in first place in the NFC North, have the NFL’s sixth-highest scoring offense but rank in the bottom half of the NFL in most passing categories. Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has completed more than 60 percent of his passes in a game once since September, but he is expected to get top receiver Allen Robinson back this week.

The Lions (3-5) also ruled right guard T.J. Lang out for Sunday because of a neck injury suffered against the Vikings.

Lang, the Lions’ best lineman when healthy, has missed two other games this year because of a back injury and concussion. Kenny Wiggins will make his third start of the season in Lang’s place.

Eli Harold is doubtful because of a right shoulder injury, and defensive end Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) and running back Kerryon Johnson (ankle) are questionable but expected to play.

Lions midseason grades: A bunch of C’s and one F

Analysis: Rick Wagner vs. Bears’ Khalil Mack could be a nightmare


Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia lauds the confidence and poise of the franchise’s quarterbacks on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Allen Park, Michigan.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

Contact Dave Birkett: Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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