We're Black and Blue All Over:
There has been much written and said about the relatively poor teams that Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders played for. What today's fans might not realize, as Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com points out, is that Sanders nevertheless had six playoff appearances in his 10-year career.
Compare that to current Lions superstar Calvin Johnson, who has had only one winning season in six years. As bad as Sanders might have had it, Johnson has had it worse so far.
Richardson: "Johnson deserves better than this. He has been the face of a woeful franchise since entering the NFL, yet, does not complain. Johnson could demand a trade, call out the front office, criticize his coaches, and it would be hard to question his frustrations."
Consider it one of many incentives for the Lions to reverse their backstep from last season.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard are cheering each other in their competition to win the Lions' right tackle job, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Thaddeus Lewis is confident he will win the Lions' No. 3 quarterback job, according to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
Retired Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on his state of mind: "I don't want to play. I don't have a desire to play. I'm not in shape. I haven't been doing football stuff. I'm sure I'll miss it when it’s time to put the pads on and stuff. But I won't miss how my body feels when I'm done." More from Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Sun-Times goes four downs with former Bears coach Mike Ditka.
Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings doesn't want to be known as the "Fail Mary" guy, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette profiles Packers tight end D.J. Williams, who is a jokester but is very serious about putting together a strong season.
Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com looks at the Minnesota Vikings' competition at strong safety.
Kelly Parsons of the Star Tribune profiles Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Vikings receiver Greg Jennings on the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, via Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "I have no ill feelings for anyone over there. We're just back and forth. He jokes. I joke."