NFC North: Glenn Pakulak
Place-kicker Jason Hanson tested out his injured left knee during practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's workout. Hanson returned from the bye week with stitches in his left knee and still isn't certain whether he'll be able to kick Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Hanson wouldn't reveal how he suffered the injury but it appears to have resulted from an accident during the Lions' bye. Asked about a report that it involved an ATV, Hanson told Detroit-area reporters: "I'm not even sure what classifies as an all-terrain vehicle, but I was not out riding a four-wheeler and goofing around when this happened. But I was with my kids, and all the other details of what happened, I don't feel like sharing."
The Lions worked out free agent place-kickers Shayne Graham and Rhys Lloyd, but as of Thursday afternoon hadn't signed either. Presumably, they'll test Hanson out Friday before and possibly wait until Saturday to decide whether he'll be available for Sunday's game.
Meanwhile, three punters -- Matt Dodge, Robert Malone and Glenn Pakulak -- worked out Thursday, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Current punter Ryan Donahue strained the quadriceps muscle in his kicking leg Wednesday while practicing as an emergency place-kicker. His status remains uncertain as well.
NFL head coaches meet and speak frequently with their team owners, but the discussions take on more public meaning when the team is 0-4 -- and heading to 0-and-who-knows. So it was newsworthy this week to learn that Detroit coach Rod Marinelli met Monday with Lions owner William Clay Ford, a day after the team's 34-7 home debacle against Chicago.
According to Marinelli, there was no discussion about his future with the team. He said earlier this week he would "never" resign.
"I always tell him the truth and what I feel, but I also put it on me," Marinelli told reporters in Detroit. "It's my job. That's what I'm supposed to do, win here."
Marinelli said there were no clues to be gained from Ford's demeanor.
"I never try to read nothing into anything," he said. "I just go in and explain where we're at and what we're trying to do."
The conventional wisdom is that Marinelli will have the rest of this season to prove he should get a fourth as Lions coach. Although Ford already has fired president/general manager Matt Millen, there isn't an obvious in-house replacement for Marinelli to coach out the rest of the season if he fired.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Former Lions receiver Charles Rogers must pay the team $8.5 million in bonus money, an arbitrator ruled. Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com has details. The team successfully argued Rogers defaulted on his contract when the NFL suspended him for a year after multiple violations of the substance abuse policy.
- Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said there is "no doubt" he will start Sunday at Seattle, according to Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal.
- During a conference call with Wisconsin media, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren commented on the messy divorce between the Packers and quarterback Brett Favre. "It was too bad," Holmgren said, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- Packers defensive tackle Justin Harrell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he will be ready to practice when he's eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list next Monday. Harrell had two offseason back surgeries.
- The Star Tribune learned the identities of four punters brought in for workouts Wednesday. The list includes: Former Denver punter Sam Paulescu, former Seattle punter Ryan Plackemeier, Adam Crossett and Glenn Pakulak.
- Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune writes that former Vikings coach Bud Grant never would have apologized for a strange victory like the one Minnesota had Monday night over New Orleans.
- A fire in the hometown of Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte left one building almost completely destroyed. The only thing remaining was a wall painted with a mural of Frerotte, according to Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Frerotte is trying to help the displaced families in Ford City, Pa.
- The Chicago Bears will force rookie quarterback Matt Ryan to beat them Sunday in Atlanta, according to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. The Bears won't let tailback Michael Turner do it and will use safety Kevin Payne near the line of scrimmage to reinforce their run defense.
- Bears defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek said teammate Tommie Harris looked "great" in practice Wednesday, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Harris rejoined the team this week after a one-game suspension.