We're Black and Blue All Over:
You might have noticed ESPN analyst Herm Edwards' ranking of all 32 NFL coaches. It requires an Insider subscription to view fully, but I can tell you a couple of things about it.
First, Edwards placed coaches in five categories. Two of our coaches -- Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears and Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers -- ranked in the second tier, which Edwards called "Elite." Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz placed in the third tier, known as "Ascending," and the Minnesota Vikings' Leslie Frazier is in the fourth tier. The "jury is still out" on Frazier, according to Edwards.
I don't see anything glaringly inaccurate here. McCarthy has won a Super Bowl, but doesn't qualify for a first tier called "Hall of Fame-worthy." The same goes for Smith, who took his team to the Super Bowl in 2006. Schwartz has the Lions moving in the right direction, but his career record remains 18-31. And Frazier, as we've discussed, is entering a crucial year in his career.
Continuing around the NFC North
Packers receiver James Jones took a "rookie's mindset" to preparing for and participating in training camp this season, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Dunne: "His career has been a success to date. Jones averages about 600 yards per season, neatly fitting into Green Bay's arsenal. Yet he's also at a crossroads of sorts. Other young players on the offense -- such as [Randall] Cobb and tight end D.J. Williams -- are emerging. And Jones wants more. He told his trainer, Shaun Nunes, his goal is the Pro Bowl."
There remains a three-way race to start at cornerback for the Packers, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemed to be over getting a shaving-cream pie in the face on Monday. Tuesday, he told reporters that "I can appreciate a good practical joke" and added, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "They've got to understand when they do it to me, it's going to come back probably twice as hard. But good pranks are always appreciated."
The Vikings' refusal to seek veteran help at receiver speaks to the long-term plan general manager Rick Spielman is following. Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com explains.
The Vikings will be short at safety in their preseason finale, notes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier acknowledged that Brandon Fusco has won the right guard spot, according to Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in a radio interview, via Mlive.com: "We've been thin at running back before, so we kind of have a decent idea of what our game plan can be."
The Lions like that new cornerback Kevin Barnes, acquired from the Washington Redskins, can play multiple positions, notes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
Lions left tackle Jeff Backus knows he is a part of the team's present, but not its future, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
The Bears must decide whether it's necessary to keep veteran Josh McCown as their No. 3 quarterback on their final roster, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears tried to claim punter Spencer Lanning on waivers, according to Biggs, but the New York Jets had higher priority and were awarded him. Lanning was with the Bears in training camp last summer and could provide insurance for starter Adam Podlesh, who is dealing with a hip flexor.