It's a tribute to the Chicago Bears' defense, and perhaps also an indication of my early senility, that middle linebacker Brian Urlacher didn't make our "By the bye" post Thursday. Urlacher was probably the most-discussed player on the Bears' roster during training camp, given his offseason-long struggle to recover from a knee injury, but his relatively quiet start to the season hasn't gained much attention.
Urlacher has 20 total tackles in five games and has batted away two passes while playing 267 of a possible 325 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. To his credit, Urlacher acknowledged that he hasn't been himself during an interview Thursday with ESPN 1000.
"I've been lucky because our defense has been playing so well," Urlacher said. "I haven't done anything, and look what we've done so far. ... I have to think those plays are going to start coming my way, and when I need to make them, I will. I was put in position to make a lot of plays, some of them I didn't make.
Urlacher added that his knee "feels different" but said: "[T]here's no doubt in my mind I'll be able to be an impact player again. I just have to keep getting better."
That's a relatively stark admission from a proud player who will have to grind through at least 11 more games in his current condition. It's worth continued monitoring, but to this point, there is no way to argue that Urlacher's reduced playmaking has hurt the Bears. Other players have most definitely stepped up.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Bears tight end Kellen Davis is organizing a fundraiser for the family of a Bears fan who was murdered last week in Jacksonville, Fla. Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com has more.
The staff of ESPNChicago.com considers four issues, including the way the Bears are using receiver Devin Hester, in a bye week edition of "Four Downs."
Police are investigating a two-car accident involving Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh from Thursday morning. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has details.
The Lions appear encouraged with the progress of safety Louis Delmas since he returned to practice last week, according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Calvin Johnson wants the Lions' receivers to get tougher, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Green Bay Packers running back James Starks, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "[I'm] not completely healthy, but I've felt a lot better than where I was. Opportunities don't come much, so I've got to make the most out of every opportunity I receive. I'm sure I will."
There have been a number of notable midseason turnarounds for the Packers under coach Mike McCarthy, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Injuries continue to be an issue for the Packers' tight ends, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
The Minnesota Vikings have had preliminary talks with right tackle Phil Loadholt on a contract extension, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson considers himself and Vikings receiver Percy Harvin to be the two best players in the NFL, according to Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune.
The Vikings will allow defensive lineman Everson Griffen to be away from the team as long as he needs as he grieves the loss of his mother, who died unexpectedly Wednesday in Minnesota. Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has more details.