Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
We spent a lot of time this summer tying the success of Chicago’s defense to the performance of defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who was hoping to overcome knee problems and rebound off a sub-par year. But we should probably recognize the conclusion drawn by Dan Pompei in the Chicago Tribune: The Bears are playing better defense this season without much of a contribution from Harris.
In fact, the Bears have only one sack from any player -- Israel Idonije -- who was lined up in the “three-technique” position Harris plays. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said that Harris is providing contributions that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but to this point it’s not clear if Harris will return to his status as an elite defensive playmaker.
Do the Bears need him to do that in order to accomplish a defensive turnaround? Or have they improved enough in other areas to mitigate his lack of progress? As we noted earlier this week, we’ll get a good answer to that question Sunday night at Atlanta.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago considers the options for defending Falcons receiver Roddy White.
Here’s how Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times describes the Bears' defense: “The defense has been dropping steadily in the NFL rankings, particularly against the pass, while somehow seeming to get better.”
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asks whether James Jones or Jordy Nelson is the Packers’ No. 3 receiver. Silverstein has Jones with 87 snaps this season and Nelson with 85.
Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said he regrets making his concerns about the Packers’ defense public, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin doesn’t have a problem with how long quarterback Aaron Rodgers holds the ball, writes Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee.
Detroit blitzed 39 percent of the time last week against Pittsburgh, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com, but defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has now upped his blitz expectation to 50 percent of the time. Cunningham said this summer his goal was to blitz on 40 percent of plays.
Lions defensive lineman Turk McBride is 253 pounds because his previous team, Kansas City, asked him to lose weight and try to play linebacker. Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press has the story.
Benny Sapp is growing into the nickel role in Minnesota, writes Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Minnesota is warning fans about the presence of counterfeit tickets. Here’s more from the Star Tribune.