Black and Blue all over: Raji's status


Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

Green Bay defensive lineman B.J. Raji wants to play Sunday night against Chicago. We’ll see how good of a lobbyist he is.

Raji is trying to recover from a sprained ankle suffered in last Thursday’s preseason finale and didn’t perform well in a medical test Tuesday. But he returned to practice Thursday in a limited capacity and doesn’t think he would set himself back by appearing in the game, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

“I’m definitely going to play,” Raji said, noting the Packers gave him the final call on whether to practice Thursday. (I should also point out that Raji said in June that he would not hold out.)

Raji is going to find out that the final decision isn’t his, at least not yet. Coach Mike McCarthy said he will take all factors into account, including the big picture of a 16-game season. But if Raji is healthy enough, he’ll provide important depth at both end and nose tackle for the Packers.

We’ll check back later with our weekly attempt to interpret the Friday injury report. For now, let’s take a morning spin around the NFC North:

  • The Packers’ new defense has multiple ways to cover the tight end, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That should be an interesting twist for Bears tight ends Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark.

  • Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press wonders whether new Lions coach Jim Schwartz knows what he’s getting into: “Before we kick a single ball in this 2009 Lions season, we should salute the greatest act of courage we are likely to see all year…. Jim Schwartz is about to coach his first official game for Detroit.”

  • The Free Press’ Drew Sharp on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford: “The Lions already have a win. Their first victory is that Matthew Stafford isn't Joey Harrington.”

  • Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News rightfully points out that people should move their focus away from Stafford and wonders whether the Lions' defense is going to be able to stop anyone this season.

  • Plenty of questions remain about this Chicago team, writes Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher feels “confident in my body again,” notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago.

  • Watch out for oddly aligned defensive linemen under the Bears’ new defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.

  • Minnesota’s midweek decision to cut receiver Bobby Wade was met with disappointment and anger in the Vikings' locker room, according Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune. Receiver Bernard Berrian was wearing Wade’s jersey during morning meetings.

  • Benny Sapp has won the Vikings’ nickel job, writes Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Rookie Asher Allen will push for playing time.