We're Black and Blue All Over:
Happy Labor Day to you and yours. Hopefully you'll be able to enjoy it with as little labor as possible.
Speaking of working -- I specialize in brutal transitions -- ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg has worked awfully hard to offer a positive spin on the Chicago Bears' winless preseason. Greenberg wonders if an 0-4 record in "fake games" should change expectations for any team, but adds:
Fans, from what I can tell, are less optimistic. They are ready for an uprising. Bill Cowher could lead a coup of Coogi sweater-wearing, mustache-grooming clones to Halas Hall, if he chose.
Fans aren't owed 10 wins and a playoff berth. It doesn't come with those three-figure ticket prices and your cable bill.
But a return to optimism would be nice, wouldn't it?
Call me crazy, I think this team can win nine games and challenge for a playoff berth. But I won't lose a bet if they win six.
That's the beauty of Week 1. No matter what has happened to this point, hope springs once again.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune offers "the story behind the story" of 2009 third-round draft picks Jarron Gilbert and Juaquin Iglesias.
Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald predicts an 8-8 record for the Bears this season.
Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press profiles Bears receiver Johnny Knox.
The Detroit Lions remain unsettled at linebacker and in the secondary, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Waiver claim Stefan Logan will return punts for the Lions, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com, and perhaps kickoffs as well.
At this point, the average age of the Green Bay Packers' roster is 25.89, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "It certainly says a lot about Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and his scouting department that five of the players they released Saturday were claimed by other teams. It also says something else as the Packers enter a season with heavy Super Bowl expectations: Thompson and Co. better be right about the roster decisions they made. In the case of each player who was claimed, Thompson decided to keep a player who is green as grass but arguably has more potential."
It appears the Packers will go into the season with the sure-handed but moderately explosive Jordy Nelson as their primary kickoff and punt returner, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune: "The Vikings' best bet to keep the Saints from knocking Brett Favre into an early third retirement might be to run the ball as well as they did against them in the NFC Championship Game eight months ago. Only this time don't fumble it six times."
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is fully expecting Vikings players to take their shots at him Thursday night, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
It's not clear if the Vikings will have center John Sullivan for Thursday night's game, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.