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4 Bears questions: On Kyle Long’s return, John Fox criticism and more

Defensive end Akiem Hicks hasn’t listened to those calling for coach John Fox’s job since the Bears lost to the Packers last Sunday.

“I don’t care about those people,” he said Friday. “I don’t care about their opinion or what they want. I know what I got in this locker room. I know what we have upstairs. That’s what we’re doing going forward.”

What the Bears have is a 3-6 team -coming off a loss to their rival.

“You’ve got to lock into your next opponent because they don’t care what happened last week,” Hicks said. “They want you — they want to beat you.”

Bears guard Kyle Long hurt his finger against the Saints. (AP)

While we wonder how the Bears will respond Sunday against the Lions, here are four more questions:

First quarter: Write Kyle Long in the lineup?

The three-time Pro Bowl guard, who hasn’t played since hurting a finger on his left hand in the first quarter against the Saints, wasn’t on the Bears’ final injury report. That means Long, who has battled pain in his surgically repaired right ankle and left shoulder all season, should start.

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Tight end Dion Sims (illness), inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (calf) and cornerback Bryce Callahan (knee) haven’t practiced at all the last two weeks and were listed as questionable. Offensive lineman Tom Compton (ankle) and defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson, who fell ill during practice Friday, are questionable, too. Cornerback Sherrick McManis and defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris, who had hamstring injuries, are healthy.

More notably, Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah (back) won’t play for a second straight game.

Second quarter: Want to try to explain this Tarik Cohen thing again?

Two days after he struggled to explain why Cohen, inexplicably, played only 13 snaps against the Packers, Fox tried again. He said which players touched the ball had less to do with who was on the field and more to do with defenses dictating what the Bears call.

“So if they double- or triple-cover [Cohen], odds are the ball is not going to him,” Fox said. “In fact, we’d probably prefer it didn’t. So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that’s more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that.”

It still didn’t answer why Cohen played so little.

Halftime hot tip

The Bears haven’t been favored to beat the Lions since the last game of the Lovie Smith era. In the eight games since, they have covered the spread three times but only won once — at home last year.

Third quarter: Jordan Howard is better this year? Huh?

One year after Howard finished second in the NFL with 1,313 rushing yards as a rookie, Fox argued that Howard was “in many ways a little bit better than last season.” The numbers disagree; Howard averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year and is averaging four this year.

“I think just his feel for the game, I think his understanding of protections,” Fox said. “And again, we’re not all the way through the season. . . . But I’ve been very impressed with the type of season he’s had to this date.”

Howard, whose first start last year came against the Lions, said he feels more comfortable.

“Just being able to read defenses better,” he said. “Just the more I play, the more experience I get.”

Fourth quarter: What about Kenny Golladay?

The St. Rita and Northern Illinois alum returned last week from a hamstring injury that cost him five games. Drafted in the third round by the Lions, he starred in the season opener, catching four passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. In his three other games, he had five catches for 97 yards.

“He’s only played a couple games for us now, so we’ve got a ways to go to make a real evaluation of him overall,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “But when he’s in there, he typically makes something happen, so we anticipate he’s going to keep working, and see if that continues.”

Caldwell warned about deifying rookies.

“There’s been a lot of individuals that have come and done it for one, two, three games, four games, maybe, and disappeared,” he said.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com