Since signing with the Minnesota Vikings in 2004, cornerback Antoine Winfield has addressed the team perhaps two or three times. One of them came Monday, a day after the Vikings allowed a game-winning drive to rookie Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in a 23-20 defeat.
Winfield recently endured the loss of his brother, who was murdered earlier this month, but he told reporters Wednesday that his 10-minute speech was about football. Winfield wouldn't reveal the specifics but said: "I only stand up and say stuff when it's coming from the heart and I think it needs to be said. … I'm only playing this game because I want to win a championship. It's not about the money anymore. I still love to play. I think I'm still productive, I still play at a high level. That's why I'm here."
Players, coaches and even general manager Rick Spielman were in the room for Winfield's talk.
At 1-1, the Vikings haven't exactly performed below the modest expectations most people have for them. Perhaps that was part of Winfield's point, and it's possible he wanted to get some thoughts on the record before this season got away. Regardless, it's worth noting when a longtime and highly respected veteran stands up and gives a speech to the team at the start of Week 3.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Vikings safety Harrison Smith on the speech, via the Star Tribune: "He let us know exactly what he sees in this team and what he wants from us. It was good to hear him calling it like he sees it and allowing us to better understand what we need to be doing and what we need to be correcting. There's not one guy on this team who doesn't respect Antoine and look to him for how he does things. So when he tells us what he sees, we're going to listen with the understanding that he knows best."
Vikings receiver Devin Aromashodu on the lack of downfield plays so far, via Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com: "There may be some out there. But we can only go with what's being called. If the opportunity's given, we try to go and make the play."
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler: "Cutler's last blowup matters much less than his next one will in the context of the 2012 season. And, rest assured, Cutler will blow up again. If neither fatherhood nor the Bears surrounding Cutler with everything he wanted in the offseason failed to change an educated, articulate 29-year-old, I doubt anything can. A man has to consider his behavior wrong before he changes it and I am not convinced the Vanderbilt grad can spell w-r-o-n-g. Nobody will know if Cutler truly learned from his mistake in Green Bay until the next sign of trouble. "
Bears fans want to believe in Cutler, but it's tough, writes Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com.
Bears coach Lovie Smith spoke with cornerback D.J. Moore about his public criticism of Cutler, writes Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh responded Wednesday to comments from San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, who said the Lions' defensive line was overrated. Suh, via the Detroit Free Press: "I find it very interesting and laughable sometimes, but it's not my concern. I don't go against him. The times that I guess I have I've never had an issue with him. If he has an issue with me, he knows where to find me. … People are going to say what they want to say. Especially, I mean, you get a win, feel like you can talk, great for you. That doesn't really mean [anything] to me."
Lions cornerback Chris Houston said he will be "ready to go" this week against the Tennessee Titans, notes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
The Lions have been waiting for years to get running back Mikel Leshoure on the field, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Yelling at teammates is part of football, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said that "player safety was compromised at times" in some games during Week 2 because of replacement officials. Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com has more.