We're Black and Blue All Over:
We've reached the quarter point of the NFL season. Each NFC North team has played four of its 16 games, and here is one development none of us would have predicted when training camp began: Cedric Benson is the Green Bay Packers' unquestioned starting running back.
Benson has taken 184 of the 186 snaps that have gone to a Packers tailback this season, according to Pro Football Focus. (Alex Green has taken the other two.) Former starter James Starks has recovered from the turf toe injury he suffered in the first week of the preseason, but he was essentially a healthy scratch from Sunday's 28-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
The Packers have prioritized getting Benson plenty of touches, which they believe helps make him more effective, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements: "He's a workhorse and when he touches the ball, the more he touches it, the better he gets. We'd like to work those other guys in there if the opportunity presents itself, but you try to get [Benson] the ball to get him going."
Continuing around the NFC North:
Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes on the advantages of having the same five players start each game on the offensive line.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he won't wear a visor to protect against future eye pokes. Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com explains.
Minnesota Vikings place-kicker Blair Walsh is one of several rookies who are excelling in 2012, notes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
The Vikings have gone to the playoffs in every year of their history that they have started 3-1, notes the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Chicago Bears receiver Devin Hester on quarterback Jay Cutler, via ESPNChicago.com: "I think Jay is the best quarterback that's going to fit our team. He's an emotional quarterback, and when you have a quarterback like that, that's willing to do whatever it takes to win, you get emotional. And that's just the nature of the beast, when you have a guy who's willing and has a passion for the love of the game, you're going to get emotional at times and you're going to flare up every now and then. If you get a quarterback who doesn't flare up and is always calm and laid back, you start second guessing yourself about that guy, maybe he doesn't really have the love or passion for the game. We love him because he has that fire, that fire mentality in him. He's calm at times, but when things are going wrong ... sometimes you need someone to step up and get in somebody's face and let him know when you're not doing good, you're not doing good."
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: "How many people get away with treating bosses the way Cutler treated [offensive coordinator Mike] Tice? Anyone familiar with the Bears' chain of command knows the answer: Cutler is the boss. Tice doesn’t work for him, not officially, but if it ever comes down to who stays and who goes, I hope Tice knows the airlines’ luggage policies. At some point, though, the Bears may have to decide how much they’re willing to swallow, not in dollars but in dignity. Cutler says reporters are always looking for controversy, but we don’t have to look for it with him. It will come to us, with a meltdown, a put-down or a tongue-lashing of a teammate. We just have to wait."
The Bears blitzed more against the Dallas Cowboys than any of their previous three opponents, notes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
The Detroit Lions hope to get safety Louis Delmas back after their bye week, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Lions receiver Nate Burleson on the team's bye week, via Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News: "This team has two weeks to think about how terrible we feel."
The Lions will have five days off after a practice Wednesday, according to Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.