We're Black and Blue All Over:
There was never a kicking controversy in Detroit, not as long as veteran David Akers could demonstrate he had moved past an injury-plagued 2012 season for the San Francisco 49ers. That moment appeared to take place Monday, at least symbolically, when Akers converted a 63-yard field goal during the Lions' training camp practice.
That kick confirmed Akers' leg strength and fortified the decision to bring him along slowly during the early part of camp. Although challenger Havard Rugland has impressed with his strong leg and quick assimilation of the game, it seems pretty clear that Akers will be the Lions' Week 1 place-kicker.
Said coach Jim Schwartz: "We've monitored him through training camp. We didn't just throw him out there every day, particularly early in training camp. But he's developed into a good rhythm. We knew he would, he's a veteran player and we had a good idea where he was with the injury and things like that. He's made steady progress through camp and looks to be just about full speed."
Continuing around the NFC North:
This press release should answer most of your questions about ESPN.com's expansion of its NFL Nation coverage. It also addresses the new role I'll be taking on as a national writer.
Justin Rogers of Mlive.com offers observations from the Lions' practice.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is not shaken by the team's poor offensive start this preseason, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. Stafford: "Anytime you step on the field you want to put points up, no question. This is the time of year when you are still trying to jell, still trying to get better. We want to do that through the whole season. Hopefully you aren't playing your best in Week 1. You want to play well throughout and be peaking toward the end of the season."
My post on the pricey failure to the Lions' Mike Thomas experiment.
Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd had a minor knee procedure and won't play again in the preseason, notes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
It will help the entire team for Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson to play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, writes Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune speaks with Vikings cornerback/returner Marcus Sherels, who is dealing with the death of his father as he tries to make the team.
Vikings linebacker Desmond Bishop is likely to get first-team reps in Sunday's game, notes Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Someday Mason Crosby might look back on his career and realize the person he should thank the most for overcoming a career-threatening bout of inaccuracy was a 5-foot-10, 182-pound bundle of positive energy named Giorgio Tavecchio. Just maybe, Tavecchio has been what the Green Bay Packers' veteran kicker has needed to overcome a troubling case of the shanks."
Tight end Brandon Bostick has impressed Packers players and coaches, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
The Packers haven't given Don Barclay their right tackle job, but he looks close to winning it, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
The Packers finally got cornerback Casey Hayward back at practice. More from Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
Veteran Chicago Bears linebacker D.J. Williams continues to miss practice because of a calf injury, notes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
That makes it more likely that rookie Jon Bostic will be the Week 1 starter, writes Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Bears won't use starter Jay Cutler or backup Josh McCown in their final preseason game, notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.