NFC North: Bruce Irvin

Another in a periodic series examining the roles of NFC North newcomers:

We have all debated the potential for Ziggy Ansah's immediate impact as a Detroit Lions defensive end in 2013. Ansah was a late arrival to football, a late bloomer on the NFL scouting scene and was drafted based on his athletic potential rather than his college body of work.

With that in mind, I thought it would be worth looking at how a few other NFL teams have approached the rookie years of pass-rushers drafted under similar circumstances. For various reasons, we can classify the New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul, the San Francisco 49ers' Aldon Smith and the Seattle Seahawks' Bruce Irvin in a similar category with Ansah.

Each player has his own story, but generally speaking, all three were drafted in the first half of the first round with limited résumés but extensive projections based on their physical attributes. The chart shows that none of them started a game and each played less than half of his team's defensive snaps. But even with that controlled playing time, they still combined to post 26.5 sacks between them as rookies.

The Lions have bid farewell to both of their 2012 starters at defensive end, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, so there is plenty of opportunity for a rookie to earn a starting job. Veterans Jason Jones and Willie Young are also in the mix, and the Lions drafted an imposing defensive end in 6-foot-7 Devin Taylor who could also compete for playing time.

If nothing else, we know a template exists for a developing pass-rusher to be used in a focused way while still having a highly productive rookie season. I wouldn't be too worried about whether Ansah will be on the field for the first play of games. More important to me is if he is out there for the most important ones -- and if he can influence them.

Earlier: The Minnesota Vikings know they need to have a plan for receiver Cordarrelle Patterson's rookie season.

BBAO: Adrian Peterson recovery ongoing

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
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We're Black and Blue All Over. (We're also on Facebook and Twitter.)

Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson has noted often that he does not consider himself 100 percent recovered from major knee surgery in December. I suppose you could say he hasn't demonstrated the same burst he had before the injury, but how is Peterson measuring this recovery?

I thought he had an interesting response while speaking with reporters Thursday. Via Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com, Peterson said: "It's just me knowing my body. When I look in the mirror, I'm like, 'OK, my right leg is obviously bigger than my left.' I know it's not as strong as far as different things that I do. That's when I'll be able to tell, when I won't be able to tell the difference between the strength of both legs."

Fortunately for the Vikings, a less-than-100-percent Peterson is still a quite serviceable NFL running back. But the answer on when, or if, he will approach his pre-injury levels remains elusive.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams is happy to have some veterans who can problem-solve, he tells Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield is used to facing receivers who are a half-foot taller than him, or more. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune explains.
  • Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan on quarterback Matthew Stafford's day of practice Thursday, via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "He got a lot of good work in. He was out there and he was feeling a lot better." Stafford (leg) is expected to start Sunday at Ford Field.
  • The Lions have given up 12.5 career sacks to Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
  • It's time for Lions defensive linemen Nick Fairley and Sammie Hill to step up, writes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Green Bay Packers' offensive problems in Seattle: " Mike McCarthy and [offensive coordinator Tom] Clements' game plan assumed the Packers were going to be able to handle the crowd noise, bump coverage from the Seahawks' defensive backs and the speed of ends Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons. It was a very bad assumption and the two switched to a more run-oriented attack with Cedric Benson in the second half."
  • Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga was frustrated by his individual performance in that game, notes Silverstein.
  • Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette doesn't have anything nice to say about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
  • Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy didn't comment publicly on the Monday night game "out of respect for and concern for the sensitivity of the bargaining process," he said in a statement, via the Journal Sentinel.
  • Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte "continues to get better," coach Lovie Smith said, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Competition has made some Bears starters better, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
  • The Bears have the NFL's worst offense on first downs, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8