We're Black and Blue All Over:
Hello again and thanks for your understanding during an unusual holiday weekend. At last, NFC North blog headquarters is up and fully operational once again. I hope you provided Endor-like treatment to John Clayton during Friday's cutdown day and said thank you to our ESPN.com blog editors for keeping you up to date with headlines over the long weekend.
This was a rare event and not likely to be repeated anytime soon. But this too has passed. Hopefully you're now aware of each team's 53-man roster, of the Detroit Lions' acquisition of cornerback Drayton Florence and of Brian Urlacher's return to Chicago Bears practice.
We'll touch on those issues and more as we barrel into Week 1 with Tuesday morning's tour around the NFC North:
Urlacher told WLFD-Channel 32 that the left knee he injured last January "isn't the same anymore" and "will never be the same," notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com. But he made clear he would play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Urlacher: "That's a done deal." Again, as we've discussed, the issue is not whether Urlacher will play but how effective he can be.
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune: "The uncertainty of Urlacher's situation makes the certainty of Lance Briggs' situation all the more comforting."
The Bears will need to figure out their Week 1 punting situation soon, notes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times, and it could end up being rookie Ryan Quigley.
Bears safety Chris Conte (shoulder) and defensive tackle Stephen Paea (ankle) returned to practice Monday, notes Dickerson for ESPNChicago.com.
Florence worked with the Lions' first team in practice Monday, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, because starter Chris Houston was sitting out because of a sprained ankle. Rookie Bill Bentley worked at the other cornerback with Jacob Lacey in the slot.
Lions running back Kevin Smith is on track for his first Week 1 start since 2009, notes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz on playing the St. Louis Rams, who are coached by his former mentor, Jeff Fisher, via Justin Rogers of Mlive.com: "I really respect [Fisher] as a head coach, and think he's going to do good things there, but it doesn't add any extra incentive for me. It doesn't make it a bigger game in any way."
The Lions are roughly $700,000 over the salary cap and must make some changes by Wednesday to comply with NFL rules, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. It won't be too difficult, but the information shows how tight the Lions continue to operate against the salary cap.
Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings knows this could be his final year with the team, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Jennings: "Whether the contract comes with Green Bay in the near future or one of the other 31 teams, that's the reality of it. That's the way I have to approach it. My mind-set is 20 weeks of football with the Packers and then this is it. This is my last year with the Packers under contract. That's my mind-set. I'm not thinking about [the] contract. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I have to make sure I go out there and do what I've been doing for six solid years here to get myself a chance to play somewhere."
Cedric Benson is expected to be a primary Packers ball carrier despite limited reps in training camp, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) didn't practice Monday but doesn't seem too worried about his availability for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com has more.
Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press examines three newcomers to the Minnesota Vikings who could make a difference.
Cornerback/punt returner Marcus Sherels continues to find ways to make the Vikings' 53-man roster, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
If tailback Adrian Peterson plays at all Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com, it won't be much.