We're Black and Blue All Over:
I'm a little fried after covering three games in five days. But I'm sorry: I can't get worked up about some loudmouth cornerback changing his name on Twitter to mimic a cartoon robot.
But much to my surprise, the Detroit Lions are worked up about Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman referring to himself as "Optimus Prime," the Transformer nemesis to Calvin Johnson's Megatron, as NFC West colleague Mike Sando points out. So I guess we can't ignore it, especially after seeing how Johnson played last season against the Dallas Cowboys when defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Johnson would be the third-best receiver on the field when the teams met.
Center Dominic Raiola said he thought the Twitter shift was "WWE-ish" and suggested it was "disrespectful to the game." Even the mild-mannered Johnson, whose nickname was bestowed by former teammate Roy Williams, noted Sherman had a "self-given nickname" and added he will "definitely" use it as motivation.
As Sando notes, the Seahawks have done a pretty nice job against opposing receivers this season. Johnson might well have a good game against them Sunday at Ford Field, but if anyone thinks it's because Sherman changed his Twitter name, then it's time for me to try a new business.
Let's take a later morning stroll around the NFC North:
The Lions are hoping for big things from rookie receiver Ryan Broyles after Nate Burleson's season-ending injury, writes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
Lions cornerback Drayton Florence, who broke his arm earlier this season, is hoping to return to practice next week. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has more.
Lions coaches want their running backs to be smarter with the ball, according to Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Christian Ponder is this close to becoming the official millstone around the neck of the Minnesota Vikings.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune: "Ponder looks like a shell of that confident, nothing-fazes-him quarterback that we watched the first four weeks of the season."
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "By getting overwhelmed by a Tampa Bay team that entered the game with a 2-4 record, the Vikings succeeded in only one endeavor: Shifting Minnesota's focus from their surprising record to their vivid flaws and daunting schedule."
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "Questions about their ability to throw the football are louder than even now, too, although this one qualifies as a true team defeat."
The Green Bay Packers have been the most efficient red zone team in the NFL, notes Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Packers receiver Jordy Nelson's hamstring injury could put James Jones and Randall Cobb on the spot Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. More from the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
A story Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told about a college professor has gone viral, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith has torched the Bears over the years, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com. Against Lovie Smith-coached Bears teams, Smith has caught 34 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns.
Matt Bowen offers some tips in the Chicago Tribune for defending the Panthers' option play.
Bears receiver Brandon Marshall has "held it together" since joining the team, writes Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times.