BBAO: Bring on the 2011 season

NEAR GREEN BAY, Wis. -- I'm holed up in an undisclosed and secure location to conduct final preparations for ... THE START OF THE 2011 SEASON!!

That's right. We're hours away from the Green Bay Packers' kickoff game Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints. I'll warn you in advance this blog will be pretty Packers-centric here for the next 24 hours or so. I'll of course account for any breaking news around the division, but a kickoff game only happens once a year. (Or so I'm told.)

For those looking to make last-minute bets, and I'm sure no one would consider it, keep this in mind: The defending Super Bowl champion has won its season opener in each of the past 11 seasons, most recently the Saints last season against the Minnesota Vikings.

Let's take a quick spin around the division while we have a moment:

  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews the team-building philosophy of Packers general manager Ted Thompson through the lens of the recent availability of free-agent guard Brian Waters.

  • Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "It would be preposterous to think a Packers player would entertain this thought for even a second: "Now that I have a Super Bowl ring, I'm going to kick back and take it easy."

  • Jason Wilde's Q&A with Packers coach Mike McCarthy at ESPNMilwakee.com covers some very un-McCarthy like topics, including his take on the makeup he wore for a recent NFL Films interview. McCarthy: "I look like an idiot. I hated it. It was terrible."

  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler: "To provide the type of security elite quarterbacks enjoy, Cutler needs the type of year he hasn't had yet. He needs a 3,800-yard, 30-touchdown, 12-interception season to remove doubt and enter the next echelon. He needs to blend his obvious talent and not-so-obvious intangibles to make everybody around him better."

  • Bears receiver Roy Williams, via Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com: "We like the Detroit Lions being [picked ahead of the Bears], everybody talking about the Lions. I mean, they deserve it. They're an up-and-coming team, but the Bears aren't going anywhere."

  • Former Bears center Olin Kreutz believes new center Roberto Garza, recently elected a Bears captain, has always been a team leader. Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times has more.

  • Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on his job, via DetroitLions.com: "I'm here to cause you problems and meet your quarterback."

  • Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "You don't have to be drunk or delusional to suggest this is the year the Lions return to that strange, mythical place known as the playoffs. Lots of people more respected than me have suggested it."

  • Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch missed practice Wednesday because of a "non-injury" reason, notes Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com.

  • Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune introduces you to new Minnesota Vikings nose tackle Remi Ayodele.

  • Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe might need some time to gain chemistry with quarterback Donovan McNabb after missing the preseason with a hamstring injury, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.

  • The Vikings' cornerback trio of Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook played only one game together last season, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.