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Lions coach denies player stepped on Bears’ Charles Leno intentionally

The NFL will review a first-quarter play Sunday in which Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead stepped on Bears left tackle Charles Leno’s left leg as he lay on the ground.

At issue is whether the step was intentional — or, perhaps more accurately, if the NFL could prove that it was.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell told Detroit reporters Tuesday it was not.

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This screen shot shoes Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead step on Charles Leno, but was it intentional?

“I was unaware of it until, I guess, this just came up this morning.” he said, “And I highly doubt that’s the case — that it was intentional.”

After Jordan Howard’s four-yard run toward the end of the Bears’ first possession, Whitehead appears to be looking toward the ground — and the Bears tackle — when he stepped over defensive end Anthony Zettel and onto the inside of Leno’s left ankle with his right cleat.

Startled and in pain, Leno kicked his left leg up toward Whitehead and reached left arm up as the Lions linebacker pushed off on his ankle.

Whitehead was not penalized, though the NFL has the authority to punish him after the fact nonetheless. The NFL reviews every play as part of standard procedure.

If it sounds familiar, it is. Lions center Dominic Raiola was suspended for the team’s final game of the 2014 season after stomping on then-Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson’s ankle. Raiola claimed it was unintentional, but Ferguson disagreed.

The Bears will see the Lions again — they play at Ford Field on Dec. 16.