During a brief intermission in CampTour'11, let's roll through some NFC North hotspots in quick-hitting fashion.
Item: In the wake of Friday night's fiasco at Soldier Field, the question once again arises: Should the grass be converted to artificial turf?
Comment: The Chicago Park District owns and runs Soldier Field, but to this point the Bears have made the decision on keeping grass. The team has cited numerous reasons, including home-field advantage and what chairman George McCaskey recently said was inconclusive research on the safety on infill turf. As a rule, grass is better than turf. But I'll repeat: Is bad grass better than turf? If those are the only two options, then I don't think so.
Item: Former Bears center Olin Kreutz signed a one-year contract worth $2 million with the New Orleans Saints.
Comment: Many of you are wondering why Kreutz would turn down $4 million from the Bears but sign for half of that with the Saints. My guess is Kreutz (accurately) sensed the Bears' ambivalence about his return. He asked the Bears to bump their offer to $4.5 million and they refused. That told Kreutz all he needed to know. The team was ready to move on and had targeted Chris Spencer as his replacement.
Item: Detroit Lions safety Amari Spievey, who reported to camp last summer with what coach Jim Schwartz said was a "pot-belly," is reported to be lean and mean this summer.
Comment: Any early-camp doubt about who would start opposite Louis Delmas seems to have been erased. Veteran Erik Coleman is still in contention for the job, but it's clear the Lions want Spievey to win the job.
Item: After general manager Martin Mayhew said the Lions are ready to "match up with anybody," Schwartz said: "This isn't a new thing, having expectations. We've had expectations all along. ... It doesn't take away from going out and practicing hard."
Comment: The Lions believe they will be a good team this season, which is more than half the battle, in my opinion. I don't think we could realistically say that during any of the last, oh, 10 training camps.
Item: Green Bay Packers tailback James Starks started a gluten-free diet this offseason, elevating his weight from 217 pounds to 225. "I've gotten stronger," Starks said, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I want to lay some hits now."
Comment: Starks believes his previous diet played a role in his slow healing process from a hamstring injury last summer. Regardless, it's clear Starks wants to capitalize on the opportunity he got in the 2010 playoffs. Veteran Ryan Grant remains the starter, but it's going to be hard for the Packers to keep a healthy Starks off the field.
Item: The Packers once again will wear their alternate uniforms for a game in 2011, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Comment: The uniforms are based on the Packers' 1929 get-ups. You knocked me around recently when I suggested they weren't my favorite throwback of all-time, so I'll let it go. (Even though I haven't changed my mind.)
Item: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has called for a thorough review of the Minnesota Vikings' proposal to build a $1.057 billion stadium in suburban Arden Hills, Minn.
Comment: This review will determine if the proposal is ready to be considered for a special fall session of the state legislature, or whether more work needs to be done. I would consider it an encouraging sign for stadium supporters, providing the proposal and financing plan holds up to in-depth scrutiny.
Item: Some of you asked if the Vikings' rating of 74 in "Madden 12" was based on having Donovan McNabb at quarterback.
Comment: Here's what ESPN's Jon Robinson said when I asked him: "Due to the lockout, the rosters that will ship with Madden are old and when you buy the game, McNabb is still on the Redskins. So the 74 rating for the Vikings is pre-McNabb. What will happen, though, is when you buy the game, you'll be able to update the rosters online and make them current (if you have online access for your video game system, that is). I wouldn't expect much of a bump, however, as McNabb isn't rated very highly in the game anymore." You ask, I (find the) answer.