NFC North: Hank Baskett

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The pending prison release of former NFL receiver Plaxico Burress will no doubt generate substantial speculation about where he might seek to play in 2011. Already, players on several teams have made public pitches. And I'm sure that in an NFC North context, we'll hear plenty of Chicago Bears speculation.

Will it be merited?

Here's all we know so far: Bears coach Lovie Smith has said he wouldn't mind acquiring a bigger receiver to join the trio of Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester. Burress is 6-foot-5.

But would the Bears want the baggage Burress brings, not to mention the rust from two years of inactivity? Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune doesn't think so.
Pompei: "Burress has three things working against him. The first is he will be 34 when the season starts. The second is he has not played football, or even trained with a football team, for two full years. The third is he has a history of getting in trouble. I don't think the Bears are that desperate."

I tend to agree. We've spent plenty of time discussing receivers and the Bears, but I'm not sure Burress and the Bears will be a fit.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Bears rookie Gabe Carimi is making an impact on Chicago's Jewish community, writes Donald Liebenson of the Tribune.
  • The Detroit Lions' unwillingness to participate in "Hard Knocks" indicates they aren't sure how good they will be in 2011, writes Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Lions receiver Calvin Johnson hopes he will have fresher legs during games after the team drafted rookie receiver Titus Young. Dave Birkett of the Free Press has more.
  • Check out this Twitpic of Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in London's Trafalgar Square. Suh is participating in the Gumball 3000 road race.
  • The Green Bay Packers have scheduled their annual shareholders meeting for July 28, according to Jason Wilde of
  • Packers linebacker Clay Matthews charmed the crowd at the Rochester Press-Radio Club's Day of Champions banquet. Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has more. Among Matthews' lines: "For all you guys out there, I'll be in each and every one of your showers," referring to his upcoming line of Suave shampoo.
  • A group of Minnesota Vikings are working out in the Twin Cities at a local fitness club, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune. The group includes: linebacker Heath Farwell, offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson, linebackers Ben Leber and Chad Greenway, center John Sullivan and tight end Jim Kleinsasser.
  • Receiver Hank Baskett and several Vikings teammates from 2010 participated in a charity event last weekend to benefit victims of child abuse, according to Lynn Hoppes of

Moss domino: Berrian to bench

October, 11, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A couple of interesting pregame nuggets for the Minnesota Vikings:
  • New receiver Randy Moss has officially displaced Bernard Berrian as a starter. Moss and Percy Harvin are listed as the Vikings' starting receivers, although I'm sure Berrian and Moss will play a lot together, with Harvin in the slot, in three-receiver sets. Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis are also active, leaving Hank Baskett on the inactive list.
  • Center John Sullivan (calf) is inactive, meaning Ryan Cook will make his first career start at center.
  • Make sure you join AFC East colleague Tim Graham and I in ESPN's NFL Countdown Live chat starting at 8 p.m. ET. The module will appear on the blog about 30 minutes before kickoff.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- As the minutes ticked by Wednesday on the Vincent Jackson trade window, the Minnesota Vikings revealed another crisis at the receiver position: Percy Harvin is once again suffering through a migraine episode that forced him to miss practice.

As a result, the Vikings had four receivers on the practice field: Bernard Berrian, Greg Lewis, Greg Camarillo and the just-signed Hank Baskett. Speaking about 45 minutes before the Jackson trade deadline, coach Brad Childress acknowledged Harvin has been given some new protocols for dealing with migraines but isn't sure if they will speed his recovery.

"I think there's not enough evidence so far," Childress said. "We'll see."

If you recall, Harvin missed most of training camp when the death of his grandmother and another close friend led to a migraine episode. He returned to practice Aug. 19, but a reaction to medication caused him to collapse on the field and be hospitalized. Harvin recently confirmed that doctors diagnosed him with sleep apnea during his hospital stay and hoped that sleeping with an oxygen mask would reduce or eliminate the frequency of migraines.

But unfortunately, as we discussed last month, Harvin's availability truly needs to be considered a week-to-week deal.

With Harvin still not clear of the migraines and Sidney Rice sidelined for at least another four weeks because of a hip injury, you can understand the desperation the Vikings feel and why they will push for Jackson right up to the 4 p.m. ET deadline. For whatever it's worth, quarterback Brett Favre pushed back his weekly news conference to Thursday. Like everyone else, he's waiting for the final word. We'll let you know when we know.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- We don't have any updates on the Vincent Jackson saga as we enter the final hours of his current trade window. But I can report that the Minnesota Vikings have added another receiver.

Someone looking a lot like veteran Hank Baskett arrived on the practice field a few minutes after stretching Wednesday afternoon. Rookie tight end Mickey Shuler wasn't on the field. The team hasn't confirmed anything, but you can reasonably guess what the transaction was.

Receiver Percy Harvin (hip) also wasn't practicing. As we discussed Wednesday morning, Baskett is probably here because of uncertainty on Harvin -- not because the Vikings have given up on acquiring Jackson.

As always, stay tuned.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

We're entering the final day of the Vincent Jackson trade window with no indication that the San Diego Chargers are close to sending the Pro Bowl receiver to the Minnesota Vikings or any other team.

If no deal is reached by Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, Jackson will have to serve two additional games of an NFL suspension for a total of six this season.

At this point, it's tough to handicap the situation because either side could flinch in the hours leading up to the deadline. ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Wednesday morning that the Vikings haven't been willing to meet the Chargers' compensation demands. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports the situation looks bleak.

I'm totally convinced the Vikings have interest, but whether they're willing to give up more than a 2011 second-round draft pick is uncertain. Obviously, there is some level of brinksmanship going on here.

There are multiple reports that the Vikings have signed free-agent receiver Hank Baskett, originating with and confirmed by the Star Tribune and, among others. Baskett's arrival doesn't reflect a capitulation on the Jackson possibility as much as it suggests the Vikings simply needed an extra body this week. Receiver Percy Harvin has been hobbled by a strained hip, leaving the team with three healthy receivers.

Baskett originally signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2006 and was traded to the Eagles for veteran receiver Billy McMullen before training camp. He's well-versed in the offensive system the Vikings use, which is similar to the Eagles, but it would be hard to project him as a consolation for Jackson or as a stand-in for the injured Sidney Rice. What he could do is contribute immediately this week.

Stay tuned all day Wednesday for updates. For now, let's take our morning spin around the division:
  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette believes there is a "decent chance" that rookie Bryan Bulaga will take over the Green Bay Packers' left tackle position this week. Starter Chad Clifton is coping with a knee injury.
  • Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiles oft-criticized defensive back Jarrett Bush.
  • The Packers don't plan to make Brandon Jackson their primary ball carrier, writes Jason Wilde of, and instead will divide their carries in a committee approach.
  • The Detroit Lions' final four plays in Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles were a "nightmare," writes Tom Kowalski of
  • Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press: "The Lions made a serious offseason investment in bolstering the defensive line and through two games that investment appears to be paying off."
  • Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News points out the two-game statistics of rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh: nine tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune wonders if the Chicago Bears will replace punt returner Devin Hester.
  • Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times agrees: "It has been said that moving Devin Hester to receiver was one of Lovie Smith's biggest blunders. Not only will Hester never be a No. 1 receiver, many have long claimed, but the NFL's greatest returner has been robbed of the dizzying ability he displayed while scoring 11 touchdowns his first two seasons. After watching Hester make that one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone against the Cowboys, after seeing his 38-yard gain set up the Bears' final touchdown and after witnessing another head-scratching return, Smith should consider relieving him of his punt-return duties so he can focus on receiving."
  • The Bears should have been ranked higher in this week's Power Rankings, writes Michael C. Wright of