NFC North: Bret Favre
- This might only interest me. But by my count, backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has taken 48 snaps this season in garbage time replacement duty for starter Brett Favre. The Vikings are averaging 64.4 plays per game, meaning Jackson has already played the equivalent of three quarters this season. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s one way the Vikings have been able to keep Favre fresh this season and, potentially, for the playoffs. If this pace continues for the final six games, Favre will have missed the equivalent of more than a game’s worth of snaps and potential wear and tear. Just some grist for the mill, especially to the naysayers who have noted Favre’s late-season struggles in recent years.
- I didn’t get to it last week, but our friends at Football Outsiders elevated Minnesota’s special teams to their No. 1 overall ranking in the NFL through 10 weeks. It’s a complicated formula, but basically it compares each team’s performance to the NFL average in multiple categories specific to special teams. Percy Harvin’s arrival has certainly helped, but so has the acquisition of a handful of other players who are excelling on special teams. One is rookie safety Jamarca Sanford, who forcefully stripped the ball from Seattle returner Ben Obomanu in the second quarter. Updated special-teams statistics aren’t available yet, but unofficially Sanford has nine special-teams tackles in eight games this season.
- Chester Taylor’s 73-yard performance was a reminder that he is fresh and still available for spot duty whenever needed. The Vikings have been trying to work Adrian Peterson into more passing situations, and that along with Harvin’s emergence has seemed to minimize Taylor’s role. But Taylor has always provided a reliable change in running style from Peterson’s hard-charging pace. And no, we didn’t miss Taylor and Peterson in the backfield at the same time Sunday. It’s a welcome wrinkle we have always advocated around these parts.
Is Ray Edwards finally establishing himself as a consistent playmaking defensive end? A week after notching two sacks against the Lions, and losing a third to penalty, Edwards had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He helped the defense limit Seattle to 212 total yards and 10 first downs, season lows in both categories. Edwards has the luxury of playing alongside three 2008 Pro Bowlers, but he has the speed, strength and aggression to routinely make big plays in single matchups with offensive linemen.
Those of you who plan to follow Rex Grossman's progress in Houston should check out this story from Megan Manfull of the Houston Chronicle. The ex-Chicago quarterback threw three interceptions in his first practice with the team Monday.
Manfull's story paints a relatively bleak picture for Grossman's immediate future. He's competing for the No. 3 quarterback spot on a team that hasn't had one for two years. That could change with the departure of reliable backup Sage Rosenfels, but for now Matt Schaub is the starter and former Detroit quarterback Dan Orlovsky is No. 2.
Here's what Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of Grossman's chances for making the team:
"After what I've been through the last two years, [three quarterbacks] might be the way I would lean today. But we have a long way to go, a lot of players to evaluate. And if I'm going to keep them, I'm going to keep them because they all can play. I'm not just going to keep them just so I have three bodies."
Most teams tap a young, developmental-type player at No. 3 rather than a veteran. But Grossman admitted he didn't have much choice but to accept Houston's offer.
Grossman: "There wasn't a whole lot of teams to choose from, to be honest. But I'm excited to be here, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to get back on top."
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Green Bay knocked out three contracts for its draft class Tuesday but hasn't started negotiations for its pair of first-round picks, writes Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette paraphrases a call he received from a Packers fan about the possibility of quarterback Brett Favre signing with Minnesota. "The disillusioned caller used words like disgusting, selfish and scumbag to describe Favre. The man said he gave his undying support to Favre for 16 years, and in return, the quarterback 'spits in our face.'"
- The Favre-Vikings courtship should be concluded -- one way or the other -- by the last week of July, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
- Vikings linebacker Ben Leber tells Zulgad he was struck by Favre's use of the world "we" during a television interview Monday night. Leber: "That really stuck in my mind because he's already including himself."
- Free-agent defensive lineman Kevin Carter has visited Detroit but isn't close to making a decision about 2009, writes Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.
- Lions coach Jim Schwartz might want to move training camp away from the team's practice facility in 2010, according to Doug Guthrie and John Clayton of the Detroit News. One possibility is Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.
- Former Lions receiver Charles Rogers is still hoping to return to the NFL, according to Hugh Bernreuter of Mlive.com. Rogers: "There's nothing concrete [about the NFL], just speculative. But if a team gives me a tryout, I know I'm going to be ready. I'm in better shape now than I was before."