We're Black and Blue All Over:
It's great to be back, thanks. It looks like I missed a whole lot of nothing last week.
As we await a new collective bargaining agreement and the presumed end of the NFL lockout, the big question is timing. Nowhere is it more urgent than in the NFC North, whose defending champions are scheduled to report to training camp 11 days from now.
The Chicago Bears would then have their first practice on July 23 in preparation for their scheduled appearance in the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame preseason game. Nothing has been canceled or rescheduled as of yet. But can the NFL truly pull off a new CBA agreement, account for a fair period of free agency, provide enough time to sign draft picks and still get the Bears to training camp in 11 days?
It will be an awfully quick timetable, that's for sure. We'll be here to chronicle the frenzy if it does.
Checking in around the NFC North:
Bears receiver Rashied Davis, a pending free agent, believes the team wants him back. Davis, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune: "I got a feeling from them that they will be offering me something. Everything is talk until it is actually offered. It sounds good until it actually happens. I am hoping. Hopefully, I don't have to pick my family up and move somewhere else."
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on the lockout, via Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com: "I don't think it's good at all. I don't think anything good can come out of this. The guys are getting rest, but we'd rather be working. I know that much. That's what we do. Hopefully there's not a lot of injuries when we start back again, either."
Detroit Lions defensive ends Cliff Avril and Lawrence Jackson had some Twitter fun with the lockout, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is going to have his work cut out for him. Once the new CBA is in place, he will have about a day to digest the new rules and get to work. He will have to sign undrafted free agents (he had a list prepared the day after the draft ended). He will have to recruit free agents and re-sign his own. Oh, and there's a matter of signing the five rookies that he drafted, including Nick Fairley, Mikel Leshoure and Titus Young -- all of whom figure to play important roles next season."
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com looks at free-agent cornerbacks the Lions might pursue.
Make sure you check out this ESPN interview with Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Green Bay Packers tailback Ryan Grant put on a fundraiser for students at Wilmot High School to help honor the late Ryan Luxem, who died in December from leukemia. Luxem's mother teaches at the school. Mary Stoker-Smith of FOX-Ch. 6 has more.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is running a tournament to decide fans' favorite play of the Packers' 2010 season.
Minnesota Vikings rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph is planning to arrive in the Twin Cities this week so he can be in place when the lockout ends, according to Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
Former NFL and Florida State quarterback Brad Johnson is a supporter of new Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, writes Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.
Here is a good primer from Tim Nelson of Minnesota Public Radio on where the Vikings' stadium situation was when the state of Minnesota government shutdown began