NFC North: Doug Hogue

Lions to start rookie CB Jonte Green

October, 22, 2012
CHICAGO -- The Soldier Field grounds crew began removing a protective tarp here at about 6:30 p.m., two hours before kickoff between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. It hasn't rained since early afternoon in downtown Chicago, so for the moment the field is dry.

Let's review some relevant pregame news from the Lions' perspective:
Here's something you don't hear everyday: Linebacker Doug Hogue is participating in the Detroit Lions minicamp this week after a rare early 20's growth spurt that left him more than an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier than he was last season.

Hogue, a fifth-round draft pick in 2011, was 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds as a rookie. This spring, he is more than 6-foot-3 and weighed in at 245 pounds, according to Tim Twentyman of the Lions' web site.

Hogue, 23, played in 13 games last season and projects as a backup at perhaps all three of the Lions' linebacker positions. It's not out of the question to consider him a possible starter in 2013, when outside linebackers Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy will be eligible for unrestricted free agency.

And now he has the size to do it.
NEW ORLEANS -- There are no major surprises on the Detroit Lions' inactive list for Saturday night's wild-card playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. One minor shift from the recent norm: Cornerback Don Carey is active and cornerback Brandon McDonald is inactive.

That could be a nod toward special teams, considering the Lions secondary will be at full strength with Aaron Berry back in the nickel and Alphonso Smith available to play the dime. McDonald had been active for the past two games while Berry rehabilitated a shoulder injury.

As expected, safety Louis Delmas is active and will start his first game since Thanksgiving Day. That moves Chris Harris to the inactive list; Harris has also been dealing with a back injury.

The rest of the inactives: Quarterback Drew Stanton, running back Joique Bell, linebacker Doug Hogue, guard Leonard Davis and defensive lineman Andre Fluellen.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

It's starting to look like I'm going to have to learn to spell Dane Sanzenbacher's last name rather than continue copy and pasting it from's website. Nothing is guaranteed at this point, but Sanzenbacher not only appears to have a good chance at making the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster, but the undrafted rookie could also have a role in the team's offense pretty soon (if not immediately) as well.

Jeff Dickerson of provides an update on Sanzenbacher's status. Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterback Jay Cutler have both complimented his performance as a slot receiver, and he was on the field for the Bears' second offensive series last weekend against the Tennessee Titans. He has reliable hands and understands the Bears' route tree.

At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Sanzenbacher might not be big enough to fill a coverage role on special teams that normally goes to a reserve receiver. But if he is as good of a pass-catcher as the Bears believe, that might not be a deal-breaker.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Bears coach Lovie Smith downplayed any interest the team might have in former defensive end Alex Brown, who was released Tuesday by the New Orleans Saints. Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times has more.
  • Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice said his group played its best game of the preseason against the Titans, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Neal (knee) believes he will be ready for the team's Sept. 8 season-opener, writes Jason Wilde of
  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette looks at Packers' depth at cornerback.
  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Just one week remains before the start of the regular season and the Green Bay Packers still don't know if they have a functional backup at center or guard. The situation is about clear as mud because rookie Caleb Schlauderaff and veteran Nick McDonald, the two players the Packers hoped would solidify their interior, have failed to emerge."
  • Clarifying earlier remarks, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said that he is neutral on a voter referendum for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, according to Rochelle Olson of the Star Tribune. Dayton said he would sign a bill that included a referendum but isn't advocating for one.
  • The Vikings have a continuing competition for the starting safety spot alongside Husain Abdullah, notes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Neither Tyrell Johnson nor Jamarca Sanford have won the job.
  • The Vikings could lose linebacker Jasper Brinkley for an extended time because of a hip injury, writes Tom Pelissero of
  • Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best (concussion) is expected to see action in Thursday's preseason finale, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Lions are continuing to stage a punting competition between Nick Harris and Ryan Donahue, notes Philip Zaroo of
  • Lions rookie linebacker Doug Hogue is hoping to make a good impression in the final days of the preseason, writes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

We've all experienced a resurgence of interest in former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi over the past year. He's been the subject of a Broadway play, an excellent HBO documentary and the trophy named in his honor returned to Green Bay this past winter. We've even read long stories about the house he lived in while coaching the Packers.

On Thursday, Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette brings us the story of Lombardi's gravesite in New Jersey, which is maintained meticulously by a devoted fan who found it overgrown and neglected when visiting 25 years ago. Gary Martin, now 58, has made the three-hour drive to the cemetery anywhere from four to 12 times per year go ensure the stone is readable and the plants around it are trimmed.

Martin was discovered recently by Lori Keck, who was Lombardi's secretary in Green Bay. She visited the site last Sunday.
Martin: "He's the guy that really brought professional football to the table, and the Super Bowl. I think he was a true leader of men, and I have to respect that. I noticed that nobody ever took care of his grave. So I felt like I was obligated to do that for all the joy he gave me."

The legend grows.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is concerned that players will have a tough transition when the NFL finally resumes team practices. Via Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune: "I don't care who you are, I think the only way to get in football shape is to do football things with the team. I can run like I'm Forrest Gump from one coast to the next, but if I don't do drills that pertain to football, I'm not going to be in football shape. The first day back, even guys who have been working out, it will be a little tough for them just because of the pace we go at. It's so much faster."
  • Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is supporting the Lincoln's Challenge Academy, a military boot camp for troubled youth. Dave Hinton of the News Gazette has more.
  • The mayor of St. Paul, Minn., has proposed an alternate stadium plan for the Minnesota Vikings that would put the stadium in Minneapolis, move the Minnesota Timberwolves to St. Paul's Xcel Center and build a new stadium for the St. Paul Saints. Details from the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • The Vikings rejected the idea and plan to continue pursuing their proposal in suburban Arden Hill. The team's statement: "We appreciate Mayor Coleman's thoughts regarding a stadium solution, but we are entirely focused on our partnership with Ramsey County. The Arden Hills plan offers the best site for the State, the team and our fans. We have done what State leaders asked us to do by bringing forward an ideal site, a workable finance plan and significant team and local contributions. Our work with State leaders on stadium legislation is on-going as part of the Special Session discussions."
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press traces the rise of Detroit Lions draft pick Doug Hogue, a linebacker from Syracuse.