We're Black and Blue All Over:
The Green Bay Packers will conduct their final practice of the week Thursday and then embark on a unique training camp experience.
Their entire team, including rookies and other newcomers, will fly Friday to Washington, D.C., to meet President Barack Obama and enjoy their final celebration for winning Super Bowl XLV. Then the team will fly to Cleveland, where they are scheduled to arrive at 7 p.m. ET, and settle in for Saturday's preseason opener against the Browns.
Players who have moved on to other teams won't participate, even as the Packers' new players (who weren't with them in January) will. According to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com, coach Mike McCarthy said: "It's the best that we could do under the circumstances. It's a business trip and also an invitation to the White House, all in one."
Obviously, no NFL coach wants to interrupt training camp for a celebratory visit. Absent the lockout, this trip probably would have taken place months ago. But it's good to see that McCarthy isn't allowing coaching dogma to block a unique opportunity for scores of Packers players, coaches and staffers.
Continuing around the NFC North:
The Packers have the financial wherewithal to re-sign the veterans with expiring contracts that they want to retain, writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Packers tailback Ryan Grant has tested his ankle enough during camp to declare it healed, writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Good grief. A power outage forced the Chicago Bears to make a location shift midway through practice to a local high school Wednesday night. Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com has more.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said that receiver Johnny Knox isn't ready to be a starter, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears are working to do a better job protecting quarterback Jay Cutler, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Minnesota Vikings linebackers E.J. and Erin Henderson are hoping to be the first brother combination to start alongside each other in the NFL's modern era, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Rookie safety Mistral Raymond got some work with the Vikings' first-team defense Wednesday, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Vikings tailback Toby Gerhart feels more comfortable at training camp his year, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
John Niyo of the Detroit News: "Actually, if you're one of those fans who still thinks of the Lions as the NFL's version of a Greek tragedy, then [offensive coordinator Scott] Linehan probably is your Tantalus, albeit a much nicer, visor-wearing version. Every time he tries to drink, the water recedes. Every time he tries to grab some fruit, the branches move out of reach. And every time we think the Lions are on the right path, we see the trainers rushing onto the field to tend to a fallen starter."
The Lions know what receiver Titus Young will bring them whenever he recovers from a hamstring injury, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
The Lions are eager to see quarterback Matthew Stafford back in action in their preseason opener Friday. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has more.