We're Black and Blue All Over:
During the preseason run-up to Week 1, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a trendy choice as the NFL's MVP. After a slower-than-expected start, has Rodgers pulled himself into contention for the league's most prestigious annual award?
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette explores that question, noting a four-game stretch in which Rodgers has thrown 11 touchdowns, no interceptions and compiled a 131.3 passer rating. Rodgers' numbers still trail other quarterbacks, including Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers, and ESPN.com's Mike Sando ranked Rodgers No. 7 overall among MVP candidates in his most recent MVP Watch.
But, as Sando wrote: "Rodgers has a chance to move up the list if the Packers stay hot."
Continuing around the NFC North:
Packers left tackle Chad Clifton suffered a concussion in Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers and his status is uncertain this week, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Rodgers was "very demonstrative" in pointing out errors of his teammates against the 49ers, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher believes defensive end Julius Peppers should be the NFL's defensive player of the year, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. There is no denying the impact Peppers has had on the Bears' defense.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler isn't ready to say this stretch is the best of his career, writes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
The Chicago Sun-Times examines the state of the turf at Soldier Field. Cutler: "You know, the turf is what it is. With our speed, we’d like to get something a little bit tighter. We probably have one of the worst fields in the league at this point. We did last year, as well. We’ve got to deal with it, and our guys know it. They’re aware of how to cut and how to move on it, so we’ve just got to go out there and play."
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is hoping to throw at least a few passes in practice Thursday as he tests out his sprained SC joint, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Vikings receiver Sidney Rice on catching jump balls, via Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "When it's up in the air, I'm going to fight for it."
New Vikings tailback Lorenzo Booker paid a $25,000 fee out of his own pocket to break his UFL contract, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Even on Detroit Lions terms, Wednesday was a tough day. Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com puts it in perspective.
One bright note for the Lions: Quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder) threw about a dozen short passes in practice, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Of the pain involved, Stafford said: "It wasn't terrible. It wasn't too bad."
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh: "If you play with a nasty edge -- as great players do -- you stray into blurred areas, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. The tackle is exactly what the Lions long have craved -- a dominant defensive player who creates havoc."