We're Black and Blue All Over:
It appears that Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has not only made a decision about his approach to relatively meaningless games late in the regular season, but he has also told at least one player how it will go.
Speaking Tuesday on his ESPN 540 radio show, quarterback Aaron Rodgers indicated McCarthy has confided in him and that the entire team will know as soon as Sunday, when a victory or a San Francisco 49ers loss would give the Packers the NFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
"I am anxious to get to Sunday and am excited about the opportunity to wrap things up, Rodgers said. "There is some information that is privileged and some that is for some people's ears only. So I can’t say that I'm completely oblivious [to] what the potential plans are, but I am excited about the rest of the team figuring them out as well."
Based on comments from McCarthy and other players in the Packers' locker room Sunday, it seemed clear the team won't bench starters to protect them from injury in the final weeks of the regular season. Earlier in the show, however, Rodgers suggested that McCarthy could look to get some key players out of games early if the score allows.
"The score may come into play here the last few weeks potentially if we’ve got things wrapped up," he said.
Continuing around the NFC North:
We'll find out soon if tight end Jermichael Finley can take over the Packers' offense in the absence of receiver Greg Jennings, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
A total of 19 players have scored a touchdown for the Packers this season, notes Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com goes behind the scenes with Packers safety Charlie Peprah.
It's hard to see the Chicago Bears replacing general manager Jerry Angelo before the end of next season, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
Angelo should take the brunt of the blame if the Bears miss the playoffs in 2011, writes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Bears' margin for error this season was "microscopic," according to Mike Mulligan of the Tribune.
The Detroit Lions have been happy with the play of defensive lineman Sammie Hill, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions lead the NFL in defensive scoring with 36 points, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Free Press.
The NFL was inconsistent in its dealings with Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, writes Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune has some interesting quotes from Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier about the state of the team's depth.
The Vikings have assured Frazier he will return in 2012, according to Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf will find out soon, possibly Wednesday, if the NFL will resume its loan program for building new stadiums. Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press explains.